Curator, 54 cats riding out Irma in iconic home
September 9, 2017 10:09 PM   Subscribe

As people evacuate the state of Florida, staff and cats remain to protect Hemingway's Key West Home The granddaughter of legendary author Ernest Hemingway called it “heartbreaking and absolutely wonderful” that Jacqui Sands, the 72-year-old manager of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, has vowed to ride out the deadly storm for the sake of the 19th-century residence and its 50-plus cats, but she wants Sands to hit the road.

The six-toed cats of the Hemingway Home Museum will be free to come and go between the hurricane-proof buildings as Irma sweeps across the islands. While some may be concerned for that cats' safety, the museum's executive director Dave Gonazlez said the felines are quite adept at surviving storms that hit Key West. "Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in." Gonzalez noted the Hemingway home has never lost a cat to a hurricane.


If you aren't already familiar with Hemingway's 6-toed cats. The current cats are considered descendants of Hemingway's own polydactyl cat, Snow White. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed, Calicos, Tabbies, Tortoise Shell. White, Black, etc. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.
posted by Toddles (28 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's hopes for all of their safety.
posted by Artw at 10:18 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


This is insane- such a bad idea.

Of course what wasn't mentioned in the FPP, is that nine other people will be riding out the storm as well. Employees who had no access to cars or flights out.
posted by happyroach at 10:41 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


The fact that the building is made out of limestone blocks 18 inches thick is a big help. I just hope the roof is well secured.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:20 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Limestone blocks won't stop a massive storm surge unfortunately. Even if the rock stays put, the water will get in. I wish they had gotten out.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:33 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I wish I did not see this post because I am not going to be able to stop thinking about that poor caretaker and all of the kitties and how terrible this is going to be for them. Going to go cry now.
posted by schroedinger at 11:49 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


What exactly does she think she can do to save the house? I'm with Mariel Hemingway that no house is worth your life, but even if it were. The caretaker is risking her life and isn't going to be able to do anything for the house or cats anyway.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:30 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I can imagine that a 72 year old might see this as the last chance of a real adventure and, if it comes to it, not the worst way of ringing down the curtain.

Not so much for the other nine people.
posted by Segundus at 12:38 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Of course what wasn't mentioned in the FPP, is that nine other people will be riding out the storm as well. Employees who had no access to cars or flights out.

That's not true. There are numerous articles with staffers saying they chose to stay and anyone who wanted off the Keys just had to call 911 or the special evac number. The Navy was flying people out until the afternoon.
posted by fshgrl at 1:20 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Segundus: "I can imagine that a 72 year old might see this as the last chance of a real adventure and, if it comes to it, not the worst way of ringing down the curtain.

Not so much for the other nine people.
"

Or the cats.
posted by chavenet at 2:13 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Limestone blocks won't stop a massive storm surge unfortunately. Even if the rock stays put, the water will get in. I wish they had gotten out.

I actually visited Key West and toured the house back in January of 2016, and one thing I recall is that the original owner of the home -- not Papa Hemingway, the colonial surveyor(?) -- had it built on the highest part of land. It's a whopping 26 feet above sea level, which is actually a lot for the Keys, and is the only building on the island to have a basement. Though the basement may flood if water seeps in through the porous ground, if the storm surge reaches the house then everything else was flooded 8 meters ago.

So while the confidence of the curator in that video may be misplaced, he's not wrong that the house is the safest place on the island to ride out the storm.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:25 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


That guy is totally not impressed by Irma. "18. Inch. Blocks."

I hope he is safe as well as everyone and the kitties.

I had no idea the house was that old and it must indeed have weathered many many storms.
posted by sio42 at 5:28 AM on September 10


Old lady and kitties, stay safe. Such a shame as I am sure some organization would have helped get the kitties out in time. Not a good idea to stay.
posted by mermayd at 5:49 AM on September 10


I've been to the house. They'll be fine. (Probably).
posted by Optamystic at 8:19 AM on September 10


I can't see that I'd be able to accomplish much for the home or the cats in the midst of a hurricane, but getting back after the hurricane might take a lot of time. I hope they're okay.
posted by theora55 at 10:01 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Unconfirmed news from Twitter that the house seems to have made it.
posted by notquitemaryann at 2:08 PM on September 10


72 isn't necessarily decrepit, for heaven's sake.
posted by Peach at 3:04 PM on September 10 [8 favorites]


Unconfirmed news from Twitter that the house seems to have made it.

The person tweeting that says that the mother of the friend she heard it from is the manager of the house; so, she's confidant that it's good information.I hope teh kitties are OK!
posted by thelonius at 3:18 PM on September 10


Know your hurricanes.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:25 PM on September 10




I am so happy that the cats are safe. There are few ways to evacuate cats (and other animals) in a hurricane situation. One of my existential terrors is that the overdue Seattle quake will strike and I won't be able to save my cats. I'm possibly a terrible human for my priorities, but someone needs to look out for the cats.
posted by SakuraK at 5:19 PM on September 10 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad I only came across this story after it was confirmed that the house and cats (and hopefully, then, the people as well?) were all safe.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:10 PM on September 10


"For sale: feliway diffuser, slightly used."
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:46 PM on September 10 [17 favorites]


So glad they made it, humans, cats, and house.
posted by mermayd at 5:10 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


72 isn't necessarily decrepit, for heaven's sake.

Yeah, I've known some 70 year olds that are still sailing boats, working on farms and who could generally kick most of MetaFilter's ass. 70 is like the new 50 or something.
posted by loquacious at 8:00 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


The physical effects of age are not all in your mind, and the 70s are still the 70s, but anyone who has lived that long is pretty darn tough and rather interested in living and/or cats. (Which describes my 70-year-old husband pretty well, now that I think of it).
posted by Peach at 9:35 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


We are a couple in our 70s, have always loved cats. My husband runs at least 3 miles most days, I work out at the gym 5 days a week. Not dead yet. We have also gone to some anti- Trump demonstrations recently. Old but hopefully not old farts.
posted by mermayd at 10:00 AM on September 11 [8 favorites]




Apologies for freaking people out. I should have said that they house is 16 feet above sea level - the estimated storm surge at it's worst was predicted at 12 feet. The house is made of 18 inch blocks of limestone. It reportedly has never been harmed in a hurricane. They lost power and water, but still have AC due to a generator.

They haven't lost a cat yet to a hurricane. Also 70 is the new 60.
posted by Toddles at 9:09 PM on September 12


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