USDA to Museum: Hemingway's Six-Toed Cats Can Stay

9.26.08

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida, announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows around fifty cats to stay on the grounds of the Nobel Prize winner's home. The famous six-toed cats—descended from a cat named Snowball—were the subject of a five-year battle between the museum and the federal government.

The USDA had threatened to fine the museum two hundred dollars per day because the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum didn't have a license for animal exhibition. The cats, however, were not enclosed (they just preferred to stay on the property) so the museum didn't even qualify for such a license. After five years of meetings, the museum's president, Michael Morawski, and a representitive from the USDA agreed to hire an animal behaviorist, who assessed the situation and recommended a special fence be installed around the property. 

Morawski told the Associated Press that the museum has spent more than a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees and fence installation costs. The Spanish colonial house is where Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and To Have and Have Not.