Italian black cat becomes 'pussy galore' after inheriting 10 million euros
Four-year-old Tommaso, who was saved from a hardscrabble existence on the mean streets of Rome, Italy, as a kitten, is now the proud owner of cash, shares and a property empire which includes flats and houses in Rome and Milan and land in Calabria.
Tommaso went from flea-bitten alley cat to "pussy galore" after being rescued by a lonely old lady, named only as Maria Assunta, who was married to a property tycoon but widowed at an early age. The couple had no children.
She became besotted with her pet but as her health began to fail, feared for his future. So in November 2009 she wrote out a will in which she bequeathed her "entire estate" to the unknowing Tommaso.
She instructed her lawyers to "identify an animal welfare association or group to which to leave the estate and the commitment of looking after Tommaso".
But none of the animal welfare associations matched up to the old lady's exacting standards so she instead decided to leave her fortune to Tommaso through the nurse who had cared for her in her final months, a woman named Stefania.
The will came into force when the heiress died two weeks ago at the age of 94.
"She had become very fond towards the nurse who assisted her," Anna Orecchioni, one of the lawyers said.
"We're convinced that Stefania is the right person to carry out the old lady's wishes. She loves animals just like the woman she devoted herself to right up until the end."
The nurse said she had no inkling that her charge was so rich. "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. But I never imagined that she had this sort of wealth. She was very discreet and quite, I knew very little of her private life. She only told me that she had suffered from loneliness a lot."
Tommaso now lives with his new owner and another cat in a house outside Rome. The address is being kept a secret, out of fears that the newly-enriched moggy will be besieged by fortune hunters and con men.