French Man Bequeaths Money to Cats Who Live in Museum Basement in Russia
Some lucky felines just turned into real-life "Aristocats."
A French philanthropist bequeathed a small sum of money to the cats who live in the basement of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, CNN reported. The man was not named by the network, but the Moscow Times has identified him as French citizen Christoff Botar.
The museum keeps the felines to keep rodents away, but cats have called the museum’s basement home for centuries, dating back to Empress Elizabeth in the mid-18th century, according to CNN.
Volunteers and museum workers take care of the 50-some-odd cats who live there now, with the help of donations from the public. There’s even an Instagram for the cats, for anyone who just likes to see cute, fuzzy faces.
“Such a nice gesture that came from France,” said the museum's general director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, at a press conference. “This is brilliant PR for both the cats and charity. 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 go towards repairs that are currently needed in the basement of the museum, according to CNN. While the cats are certainly well cared for, the donation is essential. You won’t see any diamond collars on these kitties any time soon.
Perhaps more peculiarly, the Moscow Times reported that Botar had not visited the museum in his lifetime. Since the cats have such a big online presence, perhaps he was enchanted by the felines via social media –– but that’s just a theory.
In addition to the cats, Botar also left larger sums to his living relatives as well, according to the Moscow Times.
If you’d like to send your own donation, contact the museum’s development office directly. More information can be found on the State Hermitage Museum website.
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.