Ernest Hemingway Loved His Cats Enough To Shoot One In The Head (15 Photos)

Cats were one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite animals. By 1945, he had 23 of them. This gallery shows Ernest Hemingway with his beloved pets in Idaho and at the Finca Vigia in Cuba.

 

 Good Will, Hemingway's Angora tiger cat, in chair at Finca Vigia.

Good Will, Hemingway’s Angora tiger cat, in chair at Finca Vigia.

 

Hemingway’s niece, Hilary Hemingway, writes in Hemingway’s Cats: An Illustrated Biography that the author and his fourth wife, Mary, dubbed the cats “purr factories” and “love sponges.”

 

EH8509P      Date Unknown Mary with cats at Finca Vigia.

Mary with cats at Finca Vigia.

 

Do cats help the writer? Muriel Spark says they do in A Far Cry from Kensington:

If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a desk lamp … gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.

 

EH8552P     Date Unknown Ernest Hemingway's cats, Friendless' Brother and Willy, watch a monkey outside the window at Finca Vigia.

Ernest Hemingway’s cats, Friendless’ Brother and Willy, watch a monkey outside the window at Finca Vigia.

 

On February 22, 1953, one of Hemingway’s cats, Uncle Willie, was hit by a car. Hemingway wrote to Gianfranco Ivancich. The letter:

Dear Gianfranco:

Just after I finished writing you and was putting the letter in the envelope Mary came down from the Torre and said, ‘Something terrible has happened to Willie.’ I went out and found Willie with both his right legs broken: one at the hip, the other below the knee. A car must have run over him or somebody hit him with a club. He had come all the way home on the two feet of one side. It was a multiple compound fracture with much dirt in the wound and fragments protruding. But he purred and seemed sure that I could fix it.

I had René get a bowl of milk for him and René held him and caressed him and Willie was drinking the milk while I shot him through the head. I don’t think he could have suffered and the nerves had been crushed so his legs had not begun to really hurt. Monstruo wished to shoot him for me, but I could not delegate the responsibility or leave a chance of Will knowing anybody was killing him…

Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for eleven years. Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.

 

Literature Personalities. pic: circa 1940's. Author Ernest Hemingway pictured at breakfast with a group of cats feeding at his feet. Ernest Hemingway, (1899-1961) US writer of novels and short stories and Nobel Prize winner, was also a keen sportsman. He

 

 

The Ernest Hemingway Home And Museum has more:

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snowball.

Hemingway named the cats after famous people of his time.

 

Literature Personalities. pic: circa 1940's. Author Ernest Hemingway watched by his wife Mary, feeds tit bits to the cat at dinner. Ernest Hemingway, (1899-1961) US writer of novels and short stories and Nobel Prize winner, also a keen sportsman. He was p

EH8505P Ernest Hemingway at table with his cat Cristobal at Finca Vigia.

Ernest Hemingway at table with his cat Cristobal at Finca Vigia.

EH8554P nd. Cats in a tree. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Copyright unknown. Please credit: "Copyright unknown in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston."

Cats in a tree. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Copyright unknown.
Copyright unknown in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

EH6417P  1945 Mary Hemingway with cat, Boise.  Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.  Copyright unknown in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Mary Hemingway with cat, Boise. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.

EH4448     Date Unknown Ernest Hemingway with his cat, Boise, at Finca Vigia. Spots original to print

Ernest Hemingway with his cat, Boise, at Finca Vigia.

EH4086P     Date Unknown Cristobal and his sister Izzy play in Hemingway's African Baskets.

Cristobal and his sister Izzy play in Hemingway’s African Baskets.

EH4075P     Date Unknown A kitten sits between Ernest Hemingway's feet at Finca Vigia.

A kitten sits between Ernest Hemingway’s feet at Finca Vigia.

EH3941P Ernest Hemingway looks at his cat sitting near him on the table at the Finca Vigia, Cuba.  Photographer unknown in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway looks at his cat sitting near him on the table at the Finca Vigia, Cuba.

EH3845P     Date Unknown spots original to print

EH3384P  nd. One of Ernest Hemingway's cats "Big Boy Peterson" sitting indoors with a view of Baldy Mountain in the background.  Ketchum, Idaho. Copyright unknown in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

One of Ernest Hemingway’s cats “Big Boy Peterson” sitting indoors with a view of Baldy Mountain in the background. Ketchum, Idaho.
Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

EH1211S      Date Unknown Cats in Finca Vigia

Cats in Finca Vigia