Hemingway House Cats Survived Hurricane Irma

Posted by Krissy Howard
Oranges & Licorice

Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys hard; but luckily, the Hemingway House is still standing, and all 54 cats that call it home are doing fine.

Ernest Hemingway’s Key West property now stands as a home and museum and tourist attraction, a designated national historic landmark, and a permanent home to 54 cats. Luckily for the cats and the caretakers who stayed behind with the felines as Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys, the property was spared from total devastation.

Hemingway House director Dave Gonzales told The Houston Chronicle that, while a major natural disaster is always something to be taken seriously, this isn’t the museum’s first time dealing with hurricane forces, and that the staff – and the cats – know what to do in such a situation.

Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in,” Gonzalez said. “They know before humans do when it’s time to get in.”

Hemingway Home

Unlike the rest of the islands that make up the Florida Keys, Key West was spared from a lot of the damage. Other than a few fallen trees, the Hemingway House made it through Hurricane Irma with no structural damage or major flooding.

Throughout the storm, all ten full-time Hemingway House staff members stayed on the property, which was built in 1851 to withstand such elements. Situated 16 feet above sea level, the structure is made of a thick limestone walls designed to keep it strong.


The Hemingway House polydactyl cats are best known for roaming the property freely and interacting with, or avoiding, the many guests and animal lovers who visit the house daily. Also, many of the cats, believed to have descended from Hemingway’s kitty Snow White, who was gifted to the writer by a ship captain, have six toes – a unique feature that make these cats extra special.

You can follow the Hemingway Home Museum Facebook page for more updates.

Have you ever visited the Ernest Hemingway home and museum and seen the six-toed cats? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Hemingway House Cats Survived Hurricane Irma