Hemingway Home Cats and Staffers Survive the Eye of Irma with Faith and Prayers

These people (and kitties!) are heroes.

When Hurricane Irma was barreling down on the Florida Keys, there was a mandatory evacuation for all residents. But some people stayed behind—including the human and feline residents of the Hemingway House in Key West.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is not just an homage to the prolific writer—it is also a safe haven for over 50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Since Key West is a very small island, it’s assumed that many of the kitties are descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat, Snow White, and they are a beloved fixture of both the museum and the island.

The house has been standing since 1851 and has seen many storms over the years. So despite evacuation orders, all 10 Hemingway staffers—including manager Jacque Sands—stayed behind to care for the cats. Here is the official statement that they posted on their Instagram.

“In preparing for Hurricane Irma, we have received numerous questions regarding the cats. In response, please be assured that all cats are and will be safe and well-cared for. Ten staff members will be, for the entirety of the storm, sheltering in place in the main house, the administrative offices, and the caretaker's residence to ensure that there is ample safe space available for every cat to be sheltered indoors, with staff to feed, care for, and comfort the cats for the duration of the storm. All of the cats are and will be continuously accounted for, and we will ensure that each cat is inside and safe during the entirety of the storm. Our veterinarian came today, and we are well-stocked with any necessary medications for the cats. Hurricane storm shutters are being installed on all the buildings on the estate, and the USDA-recommended ‘Purrfect’ fencing system has been inspected to ensure that it is secure and completely in tact, and will be monitored during the storm and re-inspected immediately after the storm to repair any damaged areas. We have installed surveillance cameras that allow us to watch the entirety of the property from several different positions to ensure that all cats are accounted for.”

Here are the complete facts on what we are doing for the cats and staff taken from our Facebook page Hemingway Home Museum: In preparing for Hurricane Irma, we have received numerous questions regarding the cats. In response, please be assured that all cats are and will be safe and well-cared for. Ten staff members will be, for the entirety of the storm, sheltering in place in the main house, the administrative offices, and the caretaker's residence to ensure that there is ample safe space available for every cat to be sheltered indoors, with staff to feed, care for, and comfort the cats for the duration of the storm. All of the cats are and will be continuously accounted for, and we will ensure that each cat is inside and safe during the entirety of the storm. Our veterinarian came today, and we are well-stocked with any necessary medications for the cats. Hurricane storm shutters are being installed on all the buildings on the estate, and the USDA-recommended "Purrfect" fencing system has been inspected to ensure that it is secure and completely in tact, and will be monitored during the storm and re-inspected immediately after the storm to repair any damaged areas. We have installed surveillance cameras that allow us to watch the entirety of the property from several different positions to ensure that all cats are accounted for. We have three generators and ample fuel, to ensure that we maintain electricity. We have stocked with ample water, food, medications and first aid supplies, hurricane radios, batteries, flashlights, and cleaning products. After the storm we will update this page to reassure the public that all cats and personnel are safe.

A post shared by Six Toed Cats From Key West (@hemingwayhomecats) on

And just for an extra dose of good faith, the Hemingway Home had Father John Baker of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Basilica come to bless the staff, the cats, and their home. 

It was an incredibly risky move, but we were thrilled to learn that everyone miraculously survived, and—amazingly—the house didn’t suffer from structural damage. (There was significantly more destruction on the other Florida Keys.)

Grace Kelly is overlooking our master checklist. Every cat is accounted for. INSIDE. AND SAFE. #hemingwaystrong

A post shared by Six Toed Cats From Key West (@hemingwayhomecats) on

Thank you to all of the amazing men and women who stayed behind to help preserve the Hemingway Home and all of its feline residents!

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