A Farewell to Furs?

What’s Up With Bogart, Gable &
the Other Hemingway Cat Friends?

Throughout his adventurous life, few creatures brought Ernest Hemingway more pleasure than cats. So, only three years after his tragic death in 1961, Bernice Dixon bought his Key West home and turned it into a museum to celebrate one of America’s greatest writer.
Thing is, soon enough, visitors seemed more interested in the cats, lots of them, than in Papa’s legacy itself. Now they number at 45, and the house doubles as a museum and a sanctuary to them, all supposedly descendants of one of his favorite cats. Also, they’re all polydactyl.
Another distinguished characteristic sets this felines apart: most of them are named after movie stars and famous people, both the living, and those who’ve passed away and rest on a private cemetery in the museum grounds. Now their tranquil existence as keepers of Papa’s life is being disturbed by a recent legal decision.
The U.S.Court of Appeals ruled that the Department of Agriculture has jurisdiction over the cats, subjected to the same rules that regulate zoos and traveling circus animals. So, the care for some of the best treated felines in America now requires a federal license, and as such, it can and may as well be revoked.
In one incomprehensible bureaucratic twist, a lot of federal, state and local laws and resources are being directed at a group of cats that have been helping the public interest in the life and work of Hemingway to remain very much alive. They’re also essential for the museum’s fund-raising efforts and sale of exclusive keepsakes at its store.
At the same time, just a few blocks of its location, and throughout the Florida Keys and many parts of the entire U.S., stray and abandoned Continue reading