French philanthropist bequeaths money to Hermitage cats

Posted by Storm Simpson on 9 December 2020

An anonymous Frenchman has bequeathed a sum of money in his will to the 50 cats that live in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is houses three million works of art, artefacts and sculptures.

While this may seem like an odd occurrence, the man is not the first person to leave something behind for the cats, according to Matador Network. Other patrons of the museum have previously left money for the cats, including Vladimir Fortov, a former president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who would routinely leave money for the felines when he visited.

French philanthropist bequeaths money to Hermitage Museum cats

One of the Hermitage cats

The cats have a storied history at the institution that stretches back to the 18th century when Catherine the Great, who founded the museum, declared them the guardians of art galleries.

The cats were probably housed in the museum to keep rodents at bay, according to a Russian state-run news agency report, says CNN.

The animals are now largely taken care of by volunteers and staffers at the museum and survive on donations – they even have their own washing machine and receive regular visits from local veterinarians.

‘Our French friend did a very good thing; this is brilliant PR for both the cats and charity,’ said Mikhail Piotrovsky, the general director of the museum, in a press conference.

‘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 money will be dedicated to repairing the basement of the museum, where the cats live.

Approximately 800 people submitted pictures and photographs of the cats for the museum’s Day of the Hermitage Cat, this year.

Picture: ewwl, Wikimedia Commons

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