Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Six Toe Trouble in Key West

The American novelist Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West for a decade in the 1930s, with his wife, Pauline, and a six-toed cat named Snowball. Although Hemingway divorced Pauline in 1939, Snowball stayed on. Today, about 50 of Snowball's descendants roam the grounds, to the delight of many tourists who visit the Hemingway Home and Museum but not to museum neighor, Debbie Schultz, and the federal government.

Although Hemingway wrote most of his novels in Key West, including To Have and Have Not and A Farewell to Arms, many tourists come just to see the cats. Key West is known as much for its zany festivals and eccentric charm as it is for its cats. Cats arrived in Key West long ago with visiting sea captains, who employed them as shipboard rat catchers. Today, cats wander Key West.

Much of the dispute revolves around the wanderings of Ivan, an orange tomcat born in 2004. Neighbor, Debbie Schultz, who complained about the Hemingway cats is a former official at the local animal shelter who lives four doors away from the museum. According to Schultz, Ivan the cat wreaks another type of havoc on the cat population that lived outside the museum wall. She says that Ivan is an unneutered, macho male cat, that stops by a feeding station she keeps for neighborhood cats and he bulls and pins downs the street cats. She notes that Key West has an ordinance that a nuisance cat can be removed. Although Schultz says she took Ivan to the animal shelter six times, museum representatives "bail him out," each time.

When the museum decided that they did not want Schultz prowling around their grounds to capture their cats her spay and neuter program, she called the USDA.

Opinion: Sounds like a little neighborly revenge. Just remember Debbie, a cat has nine lives but you don't.

No comments: