Feds Can Restrict Hemingway's Cats: Ruling

Judges crack down on Key West museum

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 16, 2012 5:04 PM CST

(Newser) – Looks like Ernest Hemingway's famous six-toed cats won't roam so freely anymore. Three federal judges have ruled that a Key West, Fla., museum housing the cats can no longer keep them without restrictions, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The museum will have to put them in cages overnight, install electric wire on a brick wall, build a higher fence, or employ a nightwatchman to monitor the felines. The ruling follows a long court battle over the museum's 40 to 50 cats.

Hemingway let his cats roam around the one-acre ground where he wrote some of his best books in the 1930s. But after a museum visitor complained a few years back, USDA officials laid down the law, and the museum took it to court—losing on appeal with the latest ruling. The three-judge panel based its decision on an interpretation of the US Commerce Clause, saying federal officials can impose rules on the museum because it attracts out-of-state visitors.

Patches, one of more than 60 cats in residence at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Fla., prowls through the late author's writing room in this Saturday, July 13, 2002 file photo.
Patches, one of more than 60 cats in residence at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Fla., prowls through the late author's writing room in this Saturday, July 13, 2002 file photo.   (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Roberto Rodriguez)
A six-toed cat named Hairy Truman walks on a table Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 in Ernest Hemingway's one-time study at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla.
A six-toed cat named Hairy Truman walks on a table Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 in Ernest Hemingway's one-time study at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla.   (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Rob O'Neal)
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