12.13.2011:A Pet in the One Percent: Woman Leaves $13 Million to Her Cat

A former stray cat who was rescued from the streets has inherited a whopping $13 million from the woman who took him in. Who says kindness doesn’t pay?
By Erin Skarda | @ErinLeighSkarda | December 13, 2011 |


Kris Krüg / Getty Images

Kris Krüg / Getty Images
Tommaso was just a kitty on the street (like this guy above) until he had a reversal of fortune.

What do you give the cat who has everything — including millions in cash, property in various locales and his own personal human attendant? Lots of love, of course.

Tommaso, a 4-year-old former stray cat from Rome, is now living large after his well-to-do owner (and savior) bequeathed to him a fortune worth approximately $13 million. Maria Assunta, who died two weeks ago at the age of 94, left her entire estate, including properties in Rome, Milan and land in Calabria, to her beloved animal, which will be distributed via her former nurse, Stefania, to care for the kitty.

Assunta was the widow of a property tycoon and had no children or living relatives, but when she found Tommaso as kitten in a Rome alley, she fell in love with the furry friend, and was dedicated to giving him the best of everything, even after her death.

After trying to find an animal welfare association that could care for Tommaso, Assunta determined that none lived up to her strict set of standards. So instead, she decided to tap Stefania to be the cat’s provider.

“I promised her that I would look after the cat when she was no longer around. She wanted to be sure that Tommaso would be loved and cuddled,” Stefania told the Telegraph. “But I never imagined that she had this sort of wealth. She was very discreet and quiet, I knew very little of her private life. She only told me that she had suffered from loneliness a lot.”

The lucky cat Tommaso now lives with Stefania and another cat in a house outside of Rome. According to Anna Orrechioni, one of Assunta’s lawyers, the ailing woman had become very fond of Stefania. “We’re convinced that Stefania is the right person to carry out the old lady’s wishes,” Orrechioni told Il Messaggero newspaper. “She loves animals just like the woman she devoted herself to right up until the end.”

According to ABC News, Tommaso is the third most wealthy animal on the planet (if you can believe that). He’s preceded by Kalu the chimp, who was left $80 million when his owner passed, and Gunther IV, who inherited $372 million from his father — yep, another dog — who was the companion of a German countess.

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