Boxiecat Meets Hemingway's Polydactyl Cats

We're big Turner Classic Movies fans here at Boxiecat and last year we decided to go on the first ever TCM Cruise with Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz (as well as Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint, and Ernest Borgnine!). The cruise was very fun, and filled with great screenings and great talks. One of the best talks was Robert speaking with Tippi about her harrowing experiences filming Hitchcock's "The Birds." Tippi also spoke about her Big Cat Rescue efforts. Our boat stopped for day excursions in Cozumel and Key West.
We had the pleasure of visiting the Hemingway home and museum in Key West, home to Hemingway's polydactyl (six-toed) cats (now 40-50 of them). The cats were absolutely everywhere on the property, which is a tropical paradise as you will see in our pictures. They were extremely friendly, sleeping in the shade and mingling with the visitors. 

Here's what the Hemingway museum says about the cats:  
"Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snowball. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed, Calico’s, Tabbies, Tortoise Shell. White, Black, etc. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.

Routine procedures such as ear mite treatment, flea spraying, and worming are performed here at the museum by our Veterinarian, Dr. Edie Clark. Dr Clark also administers annual vaccinations, and performs routine animal health maintenance."

We looked, but didn't see any litter boxes or cat litter anywhere;) The cats live outdoors, and have colorful cat sized houses built for them on the property to protect them from the elements. The cats were a highlight for us, and as you can see, we made some friends!  The cat on the chair in the picture above spent a lot of time with us...  We highly recommend visiting these unique cats if you are ever in Key West.