by Diana Andrews
If you were to play a word association game and the challenge was to associate the first word or words that come to mind when you hear “Key West, Florida” you would probably come up with something to do with tropical breezes, water sports like fishing or sailing, white sand beaches or sun-baked beauties.
The idea of cats in an island paradise where water is the name of the game, however, may not be at the top of your list! But as the proprietors at Island City House Hotel will tell you, cats are so famous there’s even been a book written about them!
“The Island City House Cats: A True Key West Cat Tale” written by Janet D. Corneal is a children’s story that spins the tale of the ‘real’ owners of this quaint hotel set amidst lush gardens. Guests may spot these mysteriously-natured, feline creatures prowling and hiding in the vegetation only to appear when it suits their needs for nourishment whether that be in the form of food or head rubs.
The history of cats in Key West can be directly attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum will discover upwards of 40-50 polydactyl or six-toed cats! Turns out Ernest Hemingway was given such a cat by a ship’s captain, so some of the cats living there today are likely direct descendants of Snowball, the original Key West cat.
Chances are after a visit to this beautiful, water-surrounded paradise, you’ll find it easy to associate the idea of cats with the laid back island vibe and atmosphere despite your knowledge that cats and water usually don’t mix.