Monday, November 16, 2009

Ahoy, Hemingway Kitteh!

While staring dreamily at my computer screen, it came to my attention that the Paw de Chat kitten gamboling about at the top of my blog appears to be a Polydactyl Cat. Here's another picture of a Blue Tabby KitTEEN for reference.

I’ve never had the honor of meeting a Polydactyl before, but I hope to someday. If I make it out to Key West, Florida, then my chances are probably pretty good, since that’s the breeding ground for the rare Polydactyl Kitteh—literally.

According to local lore, Ernest Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain gave the cat to Hemingway as a gift. This phalange-licious feline became the founding father of the unusual many-toed cat population in Key West, hence the common nickname for a Polydactyl; "a Hemingway cat."

As to why else so many cats, including Polydactyls, call Key West their home, The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum website has the answer:

During the shipping days, and before the days of pesticides, cats were kept to catch rats and mice. The weather is mild here and cats can live comfortably outdoors all year around; they are also quite prolific so they are numerous. There are local residents who feed many stray cats and there is a profusion of restaurants and guest houses where the cats can panhandle for hand-outs.

Although Ernest Hemingway led a troubled life, his love for cats is an admirable quality for sure. As my great-grandmother Kokko always said, “Never trust a man who doesn’t like cats.” Right on!

There are other fascinating facts compiled by a certain Lisa Rufle, including Polydactyl Cat adventures at sea, how they were true American settlers, and why they were accused of witchcraft and sorcery, but "permission to republish Polydactyl Cat Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing"… and we’re on a tight deadline here. :-) So I encourage you, instead, to check out the page here.

Do any of my dear readers have the pleasure of living with a Polydactyl Cat?


  1. Our Daddy had a polydactyl kitty named Fooz when we moved here. If you go to Mom's web page ( you can click on a link for lots of pictures of Foozie.

    Thanks for visiting our blog. Sniffie, Ellie and Allie are all Lilac Point Birmans.

    Sniffie and the Florida Furkids

  2. Our cousin cat has big "mits" like that. He likes to take a swipe at the PM legs when she walks by and THAT does not feel nice at all. The mice do faint when they see him walking by though.

    Thanks for visiting us! Goldie is still basking in the compliment.

  3. Our mom and dad went to Key West last summer (it's only about a 3-hour drive from here) and visited the Hemingway House. There were lots of beautiful polydactyl kitties there! We posted some photos on our bloggie after their visit.