Former street cat inherits Rs 81 crore

Italian feline becomes world's third richest pet after 94-yr-old owner dies

An Italian cat has become the third richest animal in the world after inheriting almost �10 million (Rs 81 crore) after his wealthy owner died and left him the entire family fortune.

Maria Assunta died last month at 94 and according to lawyers entrusted with her estate left the fortune in property to Tommasino, a stray cat she had found and looked after because of her love for animals.

From rags to riches: Tommasino's wealth is now under the care of
Maria Assunta's nurse.

Left with wealth
Assunta had a large property portfolio with homes and villas across the country, as well as several bulging bank accounts and share portfolios but no living relatives.

Lawyers Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona who are representing her say that she left the fortune to Tommasino in a will she wrote and deposited with them in their office in Rome in October 2009.

Orecchioni explained that under Italian law Tommassino  is not entitled to inherit the money directly and the will also asked for the money to be given to a 'worthy animal association, if one could be found'.

She added, "We had requests from several organisations but in the end we did not find any that we thought were suitable. Then earlier this year, Maria told us about her nurse called Stefania who looked after her and who like her had a love of animals and in particular cats. In the end we decided that Stefania was the most suitable person to administer the money that Maria had left in her will."

Stefania said, "I had no idea that she was worth so much money."

Moneyed pets
The world's richest animal is thought to be Gunter, a German shepherd who received more than �90 million (Rs 731 crore) after his wealthy and slightly barking heiress owner Karlotta Liebenstien died and left him her fortune.

In 1988,  British recluse Ben Rea left his fortune of �9 million (Rs 73 crore) to his cat Blackie.

Pet rich list
Gunter: �90 million
Barking owner Karlotta Liebenstien left her fortune to her German shepherd.

Chimpanzee Kalu: �40 million
Former Australian swimming champion Frank O'Neill's wife Patricia O'Neill left her �40 million fortune to Kalu.

Terrier Trouble: �6 million
Leona Helmsley, the woman known as New York's 'Queen of Mean', cut her grandchildren from her will but left her dog millions.

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