Monday, July 31, 2006

USDA Now Herding Cats

Washington wants the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West to file deal with red tape over six-toed cats (left). The USDA wants the free roaming yard cats and house cats caged up.

The writer was given a six-toed cat as a gift back in 1935. There are about 50 descendents of that original cat roaming the grounds of his house these days. The house is open for tours -- that's me on the balcony back in 2003 (right).

The USDA has decided the house needs a USDA Animal Welfare License -- something usually required of only zoos and circuses. That's because Washington has decided the people who run the museum are "exhibitors" of the cats.

The cats roam freely around the estate and have always lived there. Some are 19 years old.

Mr Hemingway was a big fan of cats -- and his Key West cats cleaned up his messes when he cleaned fish at the house.

One error in this article -- it says Mr Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms at the Key West house. It was actually written -- for the most part -- at his then in-laws' plantation in Piggot, Arkansas.

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