Old Havana images

IMAGES: Cuba’s Pets, Past and Present

Having a pet in Cuba today is considered a luxury.

Animals are a common sight in Havana and unfortunately many roam stray, surviving by foraging and by the generosity of pedestrians.

According to Carol Fletcher, photographer, Aniplant Project board member and Cuba Journal contributor, there is much work to do to protect and care for the animals of Cuba. And there is only one animal welfare organization permitted to function in Cuba: Aniplant, or Asociación Cubana para la Protección de Animales y Plantas. Nora Garcia Pérez is the founder of Aniplant and has dedicated nearly 30 years to the care of the animals of Cuba.

Here are some of Carol’s images of animals in Havana:

A cat has been sedated and awaits surgery at Aniplant in Havana Cuba.
Clients wait with dog in the lobby of Aniplant, the only animal welfare organization permitted to function in Cuba.

Here’s how to help the Aniplant Project.

Cuba’s colorful history includes the pets owned by famous residents of the island nation. Ernest Hemingway, a Nobel Prize winner for Literature and longtime resident of Cuba, possessed many cats and dogs. But he’s best known for his cats.

According to Carlene Brennen in Hemingway’s Cats: An Illustrated Biography Ernest Hemingway always had cats as companions, from the ones he adored as a child in Illinois and Michigan, to the more than 30 he had as an adult in Paris, Key West, Cuba, and Idaho. All are chronicled and most are pictured here, along with revelations of how they fit into the many twists and turns of his life and loves. In 1943 Ernest Hemingway, living in the Finca in Cuba with his third wife and eleven cats, wrote to his first wife:

One cat just leads to another… The place is so damned big it doesn’t really seem as though there were many cats until you see them all moving like a mass migration at feeding time. – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway sitting on a deck chair with cat, Boise, at his home, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. (Source: JFK Presidential Library)
Ernest Hemingway sitting on a deck chair with cat, Boise, at his home, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. (Source: JFK Presidential Library)

He called the cats “purr factories” and “love sponges” who soaked up love in return for comfort and companionship. He gave each a name that suited its character, including F. Puss, Fatso, Friendless, Feather Kitty, Princessa, Furhouse, Uncle Woofer, and his last cat in Idaho, Big Boy Peterson. you’ll also meet his nine dogs, a cow, and a young great horned owl that he rescued not long before his death. Hemingway’s Cats reveals a softer side to the writer’s character than is usually portrayed by the macho image of the hunter and fisherman. He sought the cats’ comfort in times of loneliness and stress, and he featured some of them in his writings, particularly in A Moveable Feast, Islands in the Stream, The Garden of Eden, and True at First Light―all written late in his life and as close to autobiography as he came.

dogs of cuba
Hemingway with his dog, Black Dog, at the Finca Vigia, Cuba.  (Source: JFK Presidential Library)
Ernest Hemingway in Cuba
Ernest Hemingway’s dog, Black Dog, pictured with Hemingway’s chef, Fico. Image exclusively obtained by the Cuba Journal

RELATED: Exclusive Video Interview with Hemingway’s Chef in Cuba

Here are some additional recent images of canines in Cuba:

Old Havana morning with dog
Image by Cuba Journal
cuba doorstep
Image by Cuba Journal
Havana woman in street
Image by Cuba Journal contributor Mimi Fuenzalida
Old Havana images
Image by Cuba Journal
Old Havana staircase
Image by Cuba Journal. 2015.
IMAGES: Cuba’s Pets, Past and Present was last modified: September 16th, 2016 by Simons Chase