A French philantrophist has left a sum of money to a bunch of cats that have been living in the basement of the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.

About 50 cats live in the St. Petersburg museum, who have been home to cats since the time of Empress Elizabeth, who reigned from 1741 to 1761, according to the museum.

Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported that Catherin the Great, founder of the Hermitage, gave the cats the status of guardians of the art galleries.

The cats were housed to keep rodents off from the premises. Through donations, the cats are taken care of by volunteers and museum staff. The animals even have their own washing maching and the services of a local veterinarian.

In a press conference earlier this month, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the museum’s general director, said an unnamed French philantrophist grew fond of the animals that he left them a “small sum” of money in his will.

“Our French friend did a very good thing: 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?” he said. “Such a nice gesture that came from France.”

The funds are likely to be used to repair the museum’s basement, where the cats live.

“I think the cats will express their will — our colleagues are well-versed in communicating with them and understanding their language,” he added.

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