London, Dec 11 : An Italian cat has become the third richest animal in the world after inheriting almost £10 million after his wealthy owner died and left him the entire family fortune, The Daily Mail reported.
Maria Assunta died last month aged 94 years old 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.
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. We also could find no living relatives of her at all anywhere.
'In the end we decided that Stefania was the most suitable person to administer the money that Maria had left in her will.
'To be honest he doesn't need all that money he is happy with a saucer of milk and some biscuits.'
Stefania herself said:'I had no idea that she was worth so much money.'
The world's richest animal is thought to be Gunter, a German shepherd who received more than £90 million 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 to his cat Blackie.
The World's Richest Pets are:
Barking owner Karlotta Liebenstien left her fortune to her German shepherd.
And in July 2000, Madonna sold her eight bedroom Miami villa for £5million to agents acting on behalf of the dog.
A website dedicated to this most pampered of mutts shows him living in true Playboy mansion style: there are pictures of Gunther surrounded by bronzed girls in gold dresses and gorgeous men in glaring white jeans, as well as splashing about in a blue swimming pool while girls in string bikinis look on adoringly.
Chimpanzee Kalu: £40million
Former Australian swimming champion Frank O'Neill.'s wife Patricia O'Neill, the daughter of the Countess of Kenmore, left her £40million fortune to Kalu.
She fell in love with the chimpanzee after since finding her tied to a tree outside the home of the Argentinian Consul-General in war-torn Zaire.
Maltese terrier Trouble: £6million
Leona Helmsley, the woman known as New York's 'Queen of Mean', cut her grandchildren from her will but left her dog millions.