Monday, July 31, 2006

For Whom The Bell Tolls

"A catfight has broken out in America's southernmost town over the future of some of its famous citizens - dozens of six-clawed felines descended from a pet that belonged to Ernest Hemingway.

It is believed that 46 of the unusual cats roam the grounds of the author's former home, at Key West, which welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The US Department of Agriculture wants to fine the museum's owners up to $US200 a day for "exhibiting" the animals without a licence, according to a lawsuit filed in Miami. The trustees insist that tourists pay to see the house, of which the cats are merely residents.

"They're comparing the Hemingway house to a circus or a zoo because there are cats on the premises," said Cara Higgins, the museum's lawyer. "This is not a travelling circus. These cats have been here forever."

About half the cats are mitten cats, meaning they have extra claws on their front or back paws. Often named after actors, artists and philosophers, the popular feline residents include Archibald MacLeish, Pablo Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir.

Hemingway received a female cat called Snow White as a gift from a ship's captain in Key West in 1935, and its descendants have enjoyed free rein at the house since it opened as a museum in 1964, three years after the author committed suicide."

Full Article

The Hemingway House cats


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