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article imageItalian black cat becomes world's richest by inheriting millions

By Joan Firstenberg     Dec 10, 2011 in Lifestyle
Rome - It's a rags to riches tale of a black cat who went from living on the streets of Rome into the lap of luxury. Tomasso fell upon the good fortune of inheriting $8.5 million from the childless widow who took him off the streets.
Tomasso's owner, 94-year old Maria Assunta, wrote in a will just before she died last month that all the money from her husband's real estate empire should go for the upkeep of the green-eyed feline that she rescued.
Assunta at first tried to find an animal welfare group or association that she could leave her inheritance to that would look after Tomasso, since animals are prohibited from direct inheritance under Italian law. Assunta had her lawyer search for such a group, but decided that none could guarantee her baby the princely life she wanted him to have. The Guardian reports that she decided to will her beloved feline, and all of her riches to a fellow cat-lover she met in a park just weeks before she died. The caregiver is identified only at Stefania. She is a nurse who also took care of Assunta before she died. Stefania says,
"Sometimes I'd go to her house so my cat could play with Tommaso. 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 quiet, I knew very little of her private life. She only told me that she had suffered from loneliness a lot." I had no idea the signora had such wealth,”
The Telegraph reports that she and Tommaso are now living in an “undisclosed location” outside Rome.
Tommaso is not the first lucky pet to receive a massive payday. "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley famously left $12 million in 2007 for the care of her tiny dog, Trouble. But after her death, the hotel heiress’s will was later challenged and recast.
More about Black cat, Inheritance, stray street cat
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