Despite popular belief, according to son Patrick, Ernest Hemingway did not own cats when he and his second wife, Pauline, and their two sons, Patrick and Gregory, lived in Key West at 907 Whitehead Street. According to an article written by Mark Burrell in the Miami Herald on August 21, 1994, Patrick Hemingway stated that even though his father was fond of cats, he did not possess a single cat in Key West. Patrick went on to tell a story of a neighbor’s cat who appeared to be hurt, possibly hit by a car. The cat had dragged itself into Hemingway’s yard. Ernest, on seeing the injured cat, decided to put it out of its misery. He shot the cat in the head and gave it to his yard man to bury. Somehow the cat survived, but was now missing an eye because of Hemingway’s bullet. After the article appeared in the Miami newspaper, Burrell received a letter from a Key West resident backing up Patrick’s story. The letter writer was Hemingway’s former Key West neighbor and the owner of a cat crippled from birth that indeed had been shot by Hemingway, yet survived. The neighbor also said his family had several polydactyl cats, possibly some of the forebears of the cats in Key West now known as the famed “Hemingway cats.”

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