What has six toes and nine lives?

By Meghan Overdeep
September 11, 2017

What has six toes and nine lives? Each one of Ernest Hemingway’s legendary cats, apparently.

We are thrilled to report that all 54 of the late author’s polydactyl cats survived Hurricane Irma’s ire at his residence in Key West, FL.

Dave Gonzalez, the executive director of the Ernest Hemingway House, came under fire last week after he and 10 members of his staff decided to ignore mandatory evacuation orders and weather out the storm with the famous felines inside the home.

Some of the cats, he told MSNBC, “actually ran inside knowing it was time to take shelter. Sometimes I think they’re smarter than the human beings.”

In the end, it was a gamble that paid off.

As Gonzalez, a Key West native, is quick to point out to the various news outlets that questioned his decision: Irma isn’t the first hurricane to hit the historic home, and it won’t be the last.

“We sit at one of the highest elevations of land in all the Florida Keys,” Gonzalez explained to Forbes. “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."

According to the museum, most of the curious cats are the descendants of Hemingway’s own six-toed cat, Snow White, who was given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain. Cats normally have five digits on their front paws and four on the rear. Although not all of Hemingway’s cats, as they are known, have a sixth toe, they all carry the gene.

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