Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cats in Art: Key West Kitties

From my continuing weekly series on cats in art.

The bride and just returned from a splendid week with friends in Key West.  We could not have wished for a better weather week there, combined with a crappy weather week here, even if we were the weather gods and had smiled upon ourselves.

Image credit Gary

This image is of a painting that hangs in the Ernest Hemingway Home museum in Key West.  I did not take note of the artist or date, just snapped a shot of the oil painting, which is approximately 30" x 24".

Seems that Mr. Hemingway--for all of his manly man-ness and machismo--was a cat lover.  He was especially enamored of polydactyl kitties, which have 6 toes instead of 5. From the Ernest Hemingway Home museum web site:

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed, Calicos, Tabbies, Tortoise Shell. White, Black, etc. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.

The descendants of Hemingway's cats still inhabit the property today.  Look for much more cat goodness from Hemingway in the days to come!

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