The Hemingway cats are safe!
It’s no secret Ernest Hemingway loved cats. In 1928 on one of his Caribbean adventures, the author became the proud owner of a white polydactyl cat (a cat with extra toes) named Snowball. Ship’s captain, Stanley Dexter, gifted Snowball to Hemingway after the author admired all the cat’s extra digits. (Some articles mistakenly say the cat’s name was Snow White.)
Jump forward 99 years.
Today, 54 descendants of Snowball, many of them multi-toed, manage the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. Last week before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, officials issued a mandatory evacuation for residents of Key West. But 10 courageous staff members at historic museum decided to brave the storm for the sake of the equally historic cats. Jacqui Sands, the manager and caretaker of the Hemingway Home even refused to leave the property despite a plea from Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel to evacuate.
Museum curator David Gonzales told CNN, “We’ve made extreme preparations. We’ve boarded up the place. We’ve stocked up on cat food and water. Our veterinarian came by on Wed and made sure we had plenty of medications for the cats who need those.
When asked if it wasn’t smarter to take the cats and leave, Gonzales answered, “On the news programs you’ll see the gridlock happening on the highways exiting the entire state of Florida. Imagine putting 25 cats in each of two vans. You’d have to drive out of this state, out of Georgia and into the Carolinas, then westerly from there…If you think about the stress of a cat being locked in a van in a kennel for who knows how long, 20, maybe 24 hours, trying to get out of here, that may not be the best thing for them.”
Gonzales explained the house, which was built in 1851 of 18 inch blocks of limestone, had endured dozens of hurricanes, and “never had any damage whatsoever. It is a solid fortress.”
The night before Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, the Hemingway Home and Museum Facebook page posted a picture of a brown tabby and white cat reading a list of names. ‘As our staff member, Nicole Navarro was confirming all cats were accounted for, the cat Grace Kelly took over roll call.’
Fortunately Key West experienced high winds and heavy rain during the hurricane, but the island was spared the damage that occurred at the hurricane’s eye. Several trees on the museum property fell and debris landed on the grounds, but the landmark emerged otherwise unscathed.
How did you feel about the staff staying with cats rather than evacuating? Post your thoughts in the comments sections below.