Monday, July 9, 2007

EH's Six-toed Cats Protected

The U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently thinks the six-toed cats that live among the brush surrounding Ernest Hemingway's former Key West home are some sort of tourist ploy and want someone to get a permit for animal exhibitions. Not going to happen! At least not right away. The Key West City Commission exempted the home from a city law prohibiting more than four domestic animals per household. About 50 cats live there. Their new ordinance states that the cats are "an integral part of the history and ambiance of the Hemingway House."

The house has been locked in a dispute with the USDA, which claims the museum is an "exhibitor" of cats and needs a special license, a claim the home disputes.
A USDA spokesman did not return messages left late Sunday. The cats are descendants of a six-toed cat given as a gift to the writer in 1935. All carry the gene for six toes, though not all display the trait.

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