Apparently, visitors to Key West’s Ernst Hemingway Museum are often tickled by all of the weird cats the place has. Yes cats. in fact, pthe lace is overrun with cats who all have six toes
“The so-called Hemingway cats — who for generations have stretched out on Hemingway’s couch, curled up on his pillow and mugged for the Papa-razzi,” reports todays New York Times. “Tour guides recount over and over how the gypsy cats descend from Snowball, a fluffy white cat who was a gift to the Hemingways. Seafaring legend has it that polydactyl cats (those with extra toes) bring a bounty of luck, which certainly explains their own pampered good fortune.
“But it seems the charms of even 45 celebrated six-toed cats have proved powerless against one implacable foe: federal regulators.
“The museum’s nine-year bid to keep the cats beyond the reach of the Department of Agriculture ended in failure this month. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the agency has the power to regulate the cats under the Animal Welfare Act, which applies to zoo and traveling circus animals, because the museum uses them in advertisements, sells cat-related merchandise online and makes them available to paying tourists.
“In other words, the cats are a living, breathing exhibit and require a federal license.
“’The most ludicrous part of the whole thing is that if we were really dealing with the health and welfare of the cats, this would have never been an issue,’ said Michael A. Marowski, the great-nephew of the woman who bought the Hemingway house in 1961, the year Hemingway died, and opened it as a museum in 1964.”