Imagine attending the reading of a will only to find as it’s read that a massive sum of money was left to the deceased’s beloved feline. It may seem an odd scenario, but it’s much more common than you think! Many people with fortunes have decided to leave some (or most, in some cases) of that fortune to their favorite pets, including cats, dogs, hens, and even chimpanzees.
Who are the felines who have inherited fortunes and made it onto the list of richest cats in the world? There are a handful, including Karl Lagerfeld’s cat! Here’s a look at five cats who inherited fortunes from their owners and what exactly it means for a kitty to inherit millions.
How Do Cats Inherit Wealth?
How exactly are felines able to inherit wealth from their owners, and why are they given such wealth? When it comes to the why of it all, in most cases, the deceased owner wants to guarantee their cat will be cared for and safe from being forced onto the streets or into a shelter after the owner’s death.
The how is a bit more complicated.
Pets inheriting wealth involves a complicated and diverse legal landscape1, as the laws on this vary from state to state and country to country. In some places, it’s simply a matter of setting up a trust to ensure the cat is cared for (similar to a trust left for a child). When a trust is established, a trustee must be appointed. This trustee is responsible for overseeing the wealth and ensuring all kitty’s needs are met according to the deceased’s instructions.
But in other places, pets are seen as personal property, and personal property can’t inherit. In these cases, there are more challenges to leaving behind large sums of money for the pet so they have proper care.
Note: The inherited wealth presented in USD is the exchange rate at the time of inheritance.
The 5 Cats Who Inherited Fortunes
|£7 million ($12.5 million)
Up until 2018, the world’s richest cat was Blackie, who inherited approximately $12.5 million from their owner back in 1988. Ben Rea was an antique dealer, as well as a bit of a recluse, who at one time had 15 felines in his home. Blackie was the last of these cats, so when Rea passed away, he left most of his fortune to Blackie and three charities for cats. He also left smaller amounts for people, such as his plumber and gardener. However, his family was left out of the will entirely.
|Rumored £1.3 million ($1.65 million)
If you know anything about Karl Lagerfeld, you’re well aware of his beloved Choupette, his Birman muse. When Lagerfeld passed away in 2019, it was rumored that Choupette (an icon in her own right) would inherit 1.3 million pounds of his fortune. The feline, now aged 11, is cared for by Lagerfeld’s former housekeeper and still lives quite the lavish lifestyle (her last birthday involved balloons, champagne, and a private jet). However, as of 2023, Choupette has apparently not yet received her inheritance from Lagerfeld, as his will has not yet been executed due to complications.
You might be wondering what a cat who was left an unknown amount of money is doing on a list of the richest kitties, but hear us out! When Dusty Springfield, a British hitmaker from the 1960s, passed away in 1999, she supposedly left at least a portion of her estate to her beloved Nicholas. Her will also bequeathed her kitty to a good friend and provided detailed instructions on how to care for Nicholas. Among those instructions were that he should only be fed baby food imported from the U.S., live in his 7-foot tree house, must be played Springfield’s greatest hits each night before bed, and be “married” to her friend’s feline. Overall, this feline lived a reasonably lavish lifestyle! Springfield was apparently terrified at the thought that Nicholas could end up in a cage in a shelter, thus her bequeathal.
|House worth £350,000 + £100,000 (roughly $800K and $225K)
Here’s a cute kitty inheritance story! Though Tinker isn’t as rich as the other felines on this list, theirs was a true rags-to-riches story. Tinker was a mere stray who befriended a wealthy widow living in London. The kitty won Layne over, and when she passed away, she left the feline her home and a trust fund. The trustees on the fund were her neighbors who took up looking after the cat. There was a catch, though; if Tinker started roaming around again, ownership of the home would pass to her neighbors!
|Over $13 million
The story of the Italian cat, Tommaso, is another rags-to-riches tale. This stray feline inherited roughly $13 million in property and money after his owner passed away. Since Italian law states that animals may not inherit directly, Assunta’s nurse became Tommaso’s trustee. Apparently, the nurse had no idea how wealthy Assunta was, so it came as quite a shock! She was just happy to promise Assunta that Tommaso would be loved and cuddled as needed.
As odd as it might seem, there are many people who leave their felines unimaginable wealth. The reasons for this are mostly to ensure that the kitty is well taken care of after their owner has passed (which makes the whole thing less strange). These are some fortunate felines who were lucky their owners cared so much!
Even if you don’t have millions to leave your pet after you pass, you should consider what will happen to them in the case of your untimely demise. No one wants to imagine their pets being given up to a shelter or ending up on the streets, so make a plan today and include it in your estate planning.
Featured Image Credit: Sandris Veveris, Shutterstock