Wealthy French Man Leaves Money in Will to 50 Cats Who Live in a Russian Museum

A group of cats living in the basement of a Russian museum is feeling fur-tunate after a French philanthropist left them a sum of money in his will.

The basement of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, which houses nearly 3 million works of art, artifacts, and sculptures, has also been home to a group of cats for several centuries since the time of Empress Elizabeth, according to CNN.

The founder of the museum, Catherine the Great, designated the animals as the guardians of the art galleries and used the felines to keep rodents away from the premises.

There are around 50 cats currently in the basement of the museum, and they are taken care of by volunteers and the museum's staff members. The animals are also supported by donations and even have their own washing machine and veterinary services, according to the museum's website.

The museum's general director Mikhail Piotrovsky said that the French philanthropist had taken such a liking to the animals that he left a "small sum" to the felines in his will.

"Our French friend did a very good thing; this is brilliant PR for both the cats and charity," Piotrovsky said in a press conference earlier this month, CNN reported. "The sum is not very big but it's very important when the person writes a will, when the French lawyers contact (us) and it's all not a simple (process) but this is all very interesting, isn't it?"

The man's contribution was "such a nice gesture," he added.

Piotrovsky said that the money will most likely be used to repair the museum's basement where the cats currently reside.

"I think the cats will express their will – our colleagues are well-versed in communicating with them and understanding their language," he said.

The manager also noted that the philanthropist was not the only person to share a bond with the cats.

The former president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Fortov, was also a "constant friend" of the felines and would occasionally stop by the museum to leave donations for the cats.

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