Score one for Hemingway’s cats

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By: Arden Moore

For nine years, I lived in South Florida and looked forward to the occasional getaway to Key West. From my home in Palm Beach County, it took about five hours to reach the final key – Key West.

Ah, but it was well worth the drive. Instead of a rainbow at the end of the trip, there was a special house, actually a mansion, which housed special cats. These cats are all descendents of polydactyl cats owned – and adored – by the late famous writer, Ernest Hemingway.

Polydactyl cats, by definition, have extra toes – on their front paws and sometimes, back paws, too. Hemingway’s felines – more accurately – their descendants – have freely roamed the grounds of the Hemingway house which is now a major tourist attraction in Key West. Many of them loved to greet visitors and pose for photos.

These cats knew they had it made. Free meals. Free lodging. Adoring fans. What could be better? Unfortunately, big government, namely the U.S. Department of Agriculture, opted to try to force removal of the cats – citing a city law that prohibits more than four domestic animals per household.

For more than a year, the feds engaged in a catfight with the locals running the Hemingway house. I am happy to report that the Key West City Commission recently voted to exempt the Hemingway house from that city law on the number of animals allowed per property.

The famous polydactyl cats will get to roam the grounds as the members of the commission ruled that these felines are indeed animals of historic, social and tourism significance.

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If you ever get the opportunity to visit Key West, please do. It is one of the few remaining places in the country where freedom truly exists – without a lot of meddling laws. Just ask the Hemingway cats.

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