Friday, July 9, 2010

Ernest Hemingway's Cats- Feline Friday

I recently stumbled upon a really neat looking book called Hemingway's Cats: An Illustrated Biography and thought it would be appropriate to share it with you this Feline Friday. 
Now as you probably know, and I've definitely mentioned, Ernest Hemingway was one of the most famous literary cat lovers that I can think of.  He not only had a spectacular number of them, and had a breed named after him but he also provided for them in his will meaning that even today you can visit his Florida Keys home and meet descendant's of his beloved cats.

So well cruising the great world wide interweb, I stumbled upon this intriguing book talking specifically, about the relationship Hemingway had with his various feline friends.  The following great quotes have me looking forward to the day I can page through this book myself!

Ernest took great pleasure in writing to his family about his cats and how they were getting along. By 1943, Ernest and third wife Martha had eleven cats at Finca Vigia. "One cat just leads to another . . ." he wrote to his first wife, Hadley Mowrer. "The place is so damned big it doesn’t really seem as though there were many cats until you see them all moving like a mass migration at feeding time. . .
By the time Papa’s fourth wife to be, Mary Welsh, moved into the Finca in 1945, Ernest had twenty-three cats and five dogs. They were treated as royalty. The cats slept in the guest bedroom and later lived in a room on the second floor of the white tower Papa had built for his pets at one end of the terrace. He and Mary called the cats "purr factories" and "love sponges" that soaked up their love and in return gave them comfort and companionship.
The Hemingway Museum also has a great couple of pages about the cats that live there now. I was chortling away over their description of the yearly vaccination round up.

The whole procedure is somewhat like a "cat rodeo," with cats being rounded up by means of treats, and the vet administering shots as fast as possible with the help of staff members. The job must be done rapidly, since the cats soon sense that something is amiss and will begin howling warnings, and slinking and scurrying in all directions. The vast majority are vaccinated the first day and their names are checked off on a list to avoid confusion.
The truly amusing part? There's a cat cam!!
Anyhow, the next time I find myself in the Florida Key's I'm heading over.

Hemingway's Cats: An Illustrated Biography, By Carlene Fredericka Brennen
Published by Pineapple Press Inc, March 2006

PS- Reading up on some of the things I wasn't familiar with in Hemingway's career highlighted something I didn't know about him. He briefly lived in Toronto, and wrote for the Toronto Star for a number of years! Which would be my personal 9 degrees of separation from the great Ernest Hemingway.


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