Hemingway's house, cats survive Hurricane Irma

Hemingway's house, cats survive Hurricane Irma
Posted at 11:10 AM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 07:46:57-04

(RNN) - Among the cutest and most vulnerable residents in Hurricane Irma's path were the dozens of cats that make their home at novelist Ernest Hemingway's former residence in Key West, and they've been reported safe.

The cats and staff of the Hemingway House sheltered inside the historic home on Key West, which was expected to get the maximum brunt of Irma's wind, despite repeated warnings from meteorologists, government officials and Hemingway's granddaughter Mariel.

But Dave Gonzales, the curator of the museum, stayed put with the cats and reported to MSNBC on Sunday night that the home, staff and all 54 cats survived.

"The cats seemed to be more aware sooner of the storm coming in," Gonzales said. "In fact, when we started to round up the cats and take them inside, some of them actually ran inside knowing it was time to take shelter. Sometimes I think they're smarter than the human beings."

The home was built in 1851 of 18-inch thick limestone blocks, which Gonzales citing as making it a safe place to shelter during a hurricane. Hemingway lived in the home from 1931 and owned it until his death in 1961.

Irma made landfall as a Category 4 storm at Cudjoe Key, about 20 miles east of Key West, sparing it of the most intense winds. The storm surge was also smaller than expected.

The island, however, suffered significant damage. Gonzales said there is no electricity, running water or internet service due to the storm. He said three generators are running to provide power to the historic site.

The cats are a famous attraction at the home due to a genetic abnormality called polydactyly that gives them six toes. Some of the cats are said to be direct descendants of Hemingway's own six-toed cat, Snow White.

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