A generous French philanthropist bequeathed a certain amount of money to very unusual heirs - cats living in the basement of the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.
This museum (or should it be called a mewzee?) Is home to about 50 cats. The buildings of the museum, including the Winter Palace, house three million works of art, antiquities and sculptures. According to its staff, the place has been home to cats since the time of Empress Elizabeth, who ruled from 1741 to 1761.
According to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the founder of the Hermitage, Catherine II, gave cats the status of curators of art galleries. The cats were kept in the Hermitage to exterminate rodents.
Now volunteers and museum staff take care of them, and they live on donations. According to information from the museum, the animals have their own washing machine and are monitored by a local veterinarian.
Museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky said at a press conference earlier this month that the unnamed French philanthropist was so fascinated by the animals that he left them a "small amount" of money in his will.
“Our French friend did a very good job: it is brilliant PR for both cats and charity. The amount is not very large, but it is very important when a person writes a will, when French lawyers contact us, and it’s not so simple, but it’s all very interesting, isn’t it?” - he said.
“What a wonderful token of attention from France,” added the director. According to Piotrovsky, the funds are likely to be used to repair the basements of the museum, where the cats live. “I think cats will express their will - our colleagues have learned to communicate with them perfectly and understand their language,” he said.
Of course, the nameless benefactor was not the only person to fall under the spell of the cat. According to Piotrovsky, the former president of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Fortov was a "constant friend" of the Hermitage cats. Fortov, who died last month, occasionally went to the museum to leave money for the animals.
This year, more than 800 people donated paintings and photographs of cats to the museum for the Day of the Hermitage Cat.