Cat (for representative purposes)

A four-year-old former stray is believed to have become the richest cat in the world.

Tommaso, a one-time stray from Rome, Italy, is now the owner of shares, cash and properties which include flats and houses in Milan and Rome and land in Calabria worth €10 million, according to the Telegraph.

It all began when the cat was adopted by an elderly lady, Maria Assunta, who married a property magnate only to be widowed early. The couple had no children.

Assunta began to be rather excessively obsessed with her pet and, as she fell progressively more ill, worried for Tommaso's future.

The worry culminated, on Nov. 26, 2009, when she made a handwritten will in which she instructed her lawyers to find an "animal welfare body or association to which to leave the inheritance and the task of looking after her pet", reported the Guardian.

It seems, however, she was not convinced by any of the associations she came across; she chose instead to leave the fate of Tommaso to her nurse, Stefania. Assunta died two weeks ago, at the age of 94.

"She needed someone to help her move around, shower and eat. I looked after her until the end," the nurse was quoted as saying, in the Guardian's report.

As it stands, animals cannot inherit, directly, under Italian law. However, they can become beneficiaries if an appropriate trustee is found.

"She had become very fond towards the nurse who assisted her. We are 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," Anna Orecchioni, one of Assunta's lawyers said to the local Il Messaggero newspaper.

"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," Stefania added.

Tommaso the cat now lives with his new owner at an undisclosed address.