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Ryan Terhune, Photo Editor

On the southern tip of the southernmost island in the continental US rests an overgrown bungalow…

Once home to Ernest Hemmingway, the former estate and current museum now hosts Key West’s most celebrated cats. Their lineage can be traced to the house’s jazz age pets including Snowball, Hemingway’s infamously prolific tom cat, whose six-toed descendants attract cat lovers and literary enthusiasts to this day. The 60+ cats have the run of the place, mugging at tourists and dozing in the sunshine that pools on Hemmingway’s desk and bed. Like feline royalty their genealogy is carefully documented by adoring staff who plot trips to the vet and order cat food in bulk. Pampered, but by no means domesticated, Hemmingway’s swashbuckling personality returns in small feline moments – the estate’s ginger alpha cat swatting at a tourist, another sleepily appraising guests like a hibernating sphinx. In the backyard a tabby kitten slinks between ferns, unaware that it’s big-cat prowl is defused by its mitten feet.

Here’s a glimpse.

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