Hemingway's cats in trouble!

  1. Hemingway Cat Caretakers Fight With USDA

    Patches, one of more than 60 cats in residence at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Fla., prowls through the late author's writing room between his typewriter and his classic, "The Old Man and the Sea," in this Saturday, July 13, 2002, file photo. ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
    From Associated Press
    July 29, 2006 11:10 PM EDT
    MIAMI - The caretakers of Ernest Hemingway's Key West home want a federal judge to intervene in their dispute with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the six-toed cats that roam the property.

    More than 50 descendants of a multi-toed cat the novelist received as a gift in 1935 wander the grounds of the home, where Hemingway lived for more than 10 years and wrote "A Farewell to Arms" and "To Have and Have Not."

    The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum disputes the USDA's claim that it is an "exhibitor" of cats and needs to have a USDA Animal Welfare License, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Miami.

    "What they're comparing the Hemingway house to is a circus or a zoo because there are cats on the premises," Cara Higgins, the home's attorney, said Friday. "This is not a traveling circus. These cats have been on the premises forever."

    A message left Friday afternoon at the Washington, D.C., office of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was not immediately returned.

    The agency has repeatedly denied a license for the Hemingway home under the Animal Welfare Act, which the home contends governs animals in commerce. The USDA has threatened to charge the home $200 per cat per day for violating the act, according to the complaint.

    "We're asking the judge to let us know whether this act applies to the cats, and if so why that is if the animals are not in commerce," Higgins said. "If it has something to do with the number of cats, how many do we have to get rid of to be in compliance with the act?"

    Agency inspectors who have repeatedly visited the property since October 2003 have never indicated any concerns about the welfare of the cats. But they have said a 6-foot-high, brick-and-mortar fence Hemingway built around the property in 1937 did not sufficiently contain the 53 cats, which should be caged, according to the complaint.

    Caging the cats, some of which are 19 years old or older, would traumatize them, and the home's designation as a National Historic Site prohibits extending the height of the fence, the complaint said.

    The tourist site complies with city and county ordinances, Higgins said. "We don't know why the USDA got involved in this," she said.
  2. Personally, I don't know either. I remember seeing a special about Hemingway's house on the Travel Channel and wondering what was with all the cats. Now, I know!
  3. That's ridiculous. I saw these cats myself when I went to key west and they were very well cared for. They can't possibly be posing any danger and they are an important part of the history and charm of the Hemmingway House.
  4. I own a few properties around the Hemingway house....they are lovely cats...and do not cause many troubles...we do have a HUGE cat community. You will always see a few cats on most properties around town. I have had all of ours fixed as they were mulitpying RAPIDLY. It is a huge deal as most of them have to be caught and then taken to the dr. then returned to whatever guest house or hotel they have decided to call home. Its just part of Key west. (like the damn chickens...LOL) I hope it does not turn into a big deal...they are awesome little creatures with their mulitple toes....:P
  5. Gosh, I hope they don't do anything to the poor cats!!
  6. This is so true -- that spay/neutering is the key to keeping a large roaming cat population safe and controlled. It's great that you took care of the cats on your property:flowers:
  7. I had a 6 toed cat, Penelope, who was awesome, and she lived to the age of 22 which is pretty incredible. I've been to the Hemingway House and this is a disgrace! I think SoFla in general has a cat population problem years ago I rented a house in downtown Lake Worth and I spayed and neutered 27 cats that roamed the alley...all while on workers' comp-they did a write-up on me in a local paper (not the PBPost) and while I lived in WIsconsin they proposed a bill to legalize ferrel cat hunting which fortunetly didn't pass, perhaps the petitions I gathered and faxed to the governors office didnt hurt, Jim Doyle actually sent me a letter assuring me he would never sign such a bill...this is a subject I am passionate about-I love cats-this thread forced me to email Jeb. I would hate to see anything happen to these cats! Off to the USDA website to find contact info!