10/12/2011 06:08 GMT | Updated 09/02/2012 05:12 GMT

Italian Black Cat Inherits Impressive £8.5m Fortune

In just four years, Tommaso has gone from living on the streets of Rome to becoming a property tycoon with a £8.5m fortune. Not bad when you consider he's a cat.

After the death of his 94-year-old mistress, a one-time stray from Italy who was taken in as a kitten, has become the world's richest feline.

Thanks to the handwritten will of his owner - a childless widow of a property magnate - Tommaso is now the owner of flats and houses worth an estimated €10m.

The deceased woman, named only as Maria Assunta, is said to have bequeathed her entire estate to the lucky black puss after worrying about his future as she became increasingly frail.

Because under Italian law animals cannot inherit directly, Tommaso is named a beneficiary and has now been entrusted (along with his fortune) to a cat-loving nurse called Stefania who'd befriended the elderly woman.

Stefania, who will look after Tommason at a house outside Rome, says she had no idea his former owner was so wealthy: "I promised her that I would look after the cat when she was no longer around," she told the Telegraph.

"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."