I want to go to Key West because cats

Winter is coming. Leaves are turning and the air is refreshingly crisp; without a doubt, autumn is my favorite season, I just wish that it didn’t lead to winter.

After a few months of cold and snow, those of us who don’t ski or snowboard are ready for sunshine and warm temperatures, and our thoughts turn to a late winter/early spring vacation. Some people blend their holidays with their love of cats by taking photos, tours, or volunteering.  A near perfect destination for cat fanciers is Key West, Florida, and it’s on my bucket list.

The most famous cat-related destination in Key West is the Hemingway Home & Museum. Ernest Hemingway owned the home for 30 years, and resided there for a decade. According to lore, “Papa” became friendly with a sea captain, who bestowed his polydactyl (extra-toed) cat to the author as a gift. Today, more than 60 polydactyl cats live on this property; some are the descendants of the sea captain’s tom. The cats’ care is part of the Hemingway Home’s budget, and staff people work closely with local veterinarians to ensure that all cats are up to date on wellness exams, vaccines and flea and parasite prevention. All but a select few of the cats are spayed and neutered in order to keep the population under control while guaranteeing the future of “Hemingway’s Cats” on the island. (In fact, kittens are not adopted out because the museum only breeds enough to replace the cats that have died.)

Polydactyl tiger cat standing by a typewriter in the Hemingway House

Hairy Truman, Hemingway House cat (http://www.hemingwayhome.com/cats/)

Although you may not find a cat-themed restaurant in Key West, you can certainly dine on one of kitty’s favorite foods – seafood – in her honor. There is no shortage of shrimp, yellowtail snapper or stone crab claws that would be fit for Bastet.

Crab with mallet in its claws

Back away slowly, kitty, the seafood is mine.

If you want to feel at home (as in, surrounded by cats) at your hotel, Island City House Hotel is for you. You’re sure to feel at home with the property’s cats out and about – there was even a book written about them! Pet-friendly accommodations aren’t exactly abundant, but there are a couple of places where you can stay with your pet; I’ll definitely cut them some slack there – Key West is a destination, and people moving from Point A to Point B aren’t going to be passing through on their travels, so there’s probably not the demand that we’d find in other places.

This is what I’ll be daydreaming about from February through March. Someday, it’ll be more than a daydream, though.

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