Polydactyl cats living at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Florida.

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According to Interesting Facts In 1943, in a letter to his first wife, Hadley Mowrer, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “One cat just leads to another.”

Polydactyl cats living at the Ernest Hemingway Home

All these years later, the famed writer’s adage rings true, especially at his former estate in the Florida Keys, which is home to about 60 cats. These feline descendants of Hemingway’s original cat colony share a special trait: About half of them are polydactyl, meaning they have more toes than the average housecat. Most domesticated felines have 18 toes — five on each front paw and four on each back foot — but polydactyl cats can have as many as eight “toe beans” on each paw. (According to the museum, about half the cats there display “the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA.”)

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