At the Cat House

At the Cat House

02-JAN-2021 Saturday – Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

24°33’54.4″N 81°44’16.7″W Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL
24.565116, -81.737974
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

At the Cat House (A.K.A. the Hemingway House)

Ernest Hemingway was a famous for having polydactyl cats after being given his first polydactyl cat by a ship captain. Hemingway named her Snow White. Upon his death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida became a museum and a home for his cats. The Hemingway House currently has fifty-five descendants of his cats. About half of which are polydactyl. I’m certain we saw almost all of them!

Cats with thumbs, or any extra toes on their paws, are known as polydactyl cats, ie, cats with many digits. … (Pterodactyls were flying dinosaurs. They might have had extra toes 😉)

I never figured out where the litter box was.

Beginning in 2003, the Hemingway House museum was embroiled in a nine-year legal struggle against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) over whether the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, which typically regulates zoos and circuses with big cats, applied to the museum’s six-toed cat population. The USDA even sent undercover agents to monitor the cats in 2005 and 2006. The museum owners contested the USDA’s claims in court.

In 2005 an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) examined the cats in 2005, they concluded: “What I found was a bunch of fat, happy and relaxed cats.”

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Animal Welfare Act of 1966 applied to the Hemingway House because it used cats in advertisements and sold cat-themed merchandise. (thx Wiki)

Next stop was the historic 65-foot Key West Lighthouse across the street that was built in 1825. The story goes, Hemingway used it to find his way home after nights on the town.

Next stop Southernmost Point. 90 miles to Cuba.

1:30pm status: 1 Cuban coffee, 9,088 steps, 37 chickens, 2 roaming cats plus over two dozen Hemmingway cats and way too many tourists.

We caught the shuttle back to the marina.

Every picture has a story

We were sitting on yes dears‘ helm, looked up and thought what the ???? as a giant box floated by.  I had to go take a picture. It was a houseboat relocating to the adjacent marina. It had to have been briefly on the Atlantic Ocean in order to get here from anywhere! I’m impressed.

7 Diamonds is back at Stock Island Marina and there’s a 30 something party on board. 7 Diamonds is a Numarine 32XP expedition yacht, built in Istanbul, Turkey, that newly launched in 2020. She’s 106 feet and sleeps 12. Her asking price was £9,500,000.

Next door’s boat had it’s toybox open.

Good Night


Polydactyl cats have been extremely popular as ship’s cats. Although there is some controversy over whether the most common variant of the trait originated as a mutation in New England or was brought there from Britain, there seems to be agreement that it spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston, Massachusetts, and the prevalence of polydactyly among the cat population of various ports correlates with the dates when they first established trade with Boston. Contributing to the spread of polydactyl cats by this means, sailors were long known to value polydactyl cats especially for their extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities as an aid in controlling shipboard rodents.  Some sailors thought they bring good luck at sea. The rarity of polydactyl cats in Europe may be because they were hunted and killed due to superstitions about witchcraft. (thx Wiki )

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a polydactyl ginger tabby named Jake holds the world record for the most toes. Clocking in at a whopping 28 toes, Jake had seven toes on each paw—and each toe had a nail and pad.

One last story from the Hemingway House

During World War I, Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. He served on the Italian front and suffered a severe injury the night of July 8, 1918, while handing out chocolate and cigarettes to soldiers. Hemingway was struck by fragments of an Austrian mortar shell. He was wounded in the foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand. In all, he absorbed more than 200 pieces of shrapnel—by his own count, 237.

In the aftermath of the explosion, the injured Hemingway reportedly carried a man to safety. (He was subsequently awarded a medal of valour for this action, among several others.) Hemingway was ultimately taken to a Red Cross hospital in Milan, where he met and fell in love with a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. At age 26, von Kurowsky was seven years his senior. She did not fully reciprocate his love and refused to marry him.

She inspired the character “Catherine Barkley” in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. He got even with her at the end of the book. He killed her off.

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