One of the top concerns many people have when a hurricane approaches is all the animals in its path. While people can evacuate and try to find shelter, that’s not always the case for animals.
Hurricane Irma was no exception, with animal-lovers expressing concern for the famous cats who live at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida. But we can all rest assured now that has been reported that all 55-plus cats are safe, as are the 10 staff members who bravely stayed behind to care for them.
The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum was the author’s primary home during the 1930s, and it’s where he wrote such famous works as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Green Hills of Africa.” It remained in his family after his death and became a National Historic Landmark in 1968.
Actress Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of the writer, had issued a public plea for the manager of the house, Jacque Sands, to pack up the cats and evacuate. However, the employees chose to stay.
“We sit at one of the highest elevations of land in all the Florida Keys,” curator of the museum, Dave Gonzales, told Forbes before the storm. “Ten employees who lived in unsafe low-lying areas came to us. Now they’re safe. The home is constructed of 18-inch blocks of solid limestone. It hasn’t suffered damage in any hurricane since the day it was built in 1851.”
From Facebook pictures shared on the museum’s page, it looks like the windows were boarded up for protection for the storm:
Hemingway House staff members confirmed all cats were accounted for before the storm hit, posting an update on Facebook for anxious fans to know they were safely inside and doing what cats do best—just lying around.
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After the storm, the Hemingway House is still standing with no major structural damage. Hurricane Irma left less destruction in Key West than it did in the other Keys, with just a few trees down and no major flooding at the home, according to the Miami Herald.
For those unfamiliar with the house, and cats that reside there, here’s a brief history lesson:
Ernest Hemingway was given a cat with six toes, called a polydactyl cat (cats normally have five front toes and four back toes), by a ship captain in the 1930s while living in his Key West home.
To this day, half the cats at The Hemingway House are polydactyl, but all carry the gene in their DNA. Some of the cats that live in the house are even descendants to the original cat, whose name was Snow White.
If you’re interested in visiting the Hemingway House, you can do so 365 days a year, including all holidays. Prices are $14 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-12 and children under 5 are free.
We’re so happy to hear all animals and people at the Hemingway house made it through Hurricane Irma safely!