Literary Cats & Famous Felines

“One Cat Just Leads to Another”

— Earnest Hemingway

Literary cats bounce, pounce and in quiet moments, hang out with writers keeping them company during the long, lonely hours when major novels are being composed.  And those writers sometimes bring fame to their feline friends!

Such is the LOBBY CAT at the Algonquin Hotel in Times Square, a New York institution famous for

Matilda III -- the 10th Lobby Cat at the Algonquin Hotel

its literary clientele including William Faulkner, Maya Angelou, Dorothy Parker and Orson Welles.   And the hotel is also renowned for its ever-present lobby cat Matilda.  The 10th feline, Matilda III, is so popular she has her own Twitter account and email address.  The Algonquin Hotel was the hub of the New York literary scene in the 1930s.

But Matilda III is just one of many famous Literary Cats.

Hemingway and cat

HEMINGWAY CATS were famous for their ‘six toes’ [polydactyl] and at the Earnest Hemingway Home on Florida’s Key West, caretakers continue to maintain descendents of his famous cats.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

WHY and HOW  do cats show up writerly habitats and become part of the literary ecosystem?

Partly by accident as when Matilda the First just wandered into the Algonquin Hotel Lobby, or when a ship’s captain gave Hemingway a cat, and when kittens find themselves rescued by bookish types.  Dewey, the LIBRARY CAT was an orphaned kitten dropped into a library book return on a freezing night and rescued by the head librarian – now there’s a whole book devoted to that story. [Dewey; The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World].

Do you have a literary cat keeping you company?

Emily S Carter

My two beautiful little girl kitties came from ARF -- a rescue service in Wimberley. Maddie Bell, in the header photo, likes to help me make the bed.

Shelter cats are the best!


Making a difference to pet owners looking for their lost cat [or dog] – this is a place to post information about your animal and to provide contact information -- see the Lost Cat page.

Its also home to cat and dog stories -- see The Literary Cat page.


All text and images © copyright 2011 Emily S. Carter. All rights reserved.
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