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Stray cat inherits house, trust fund

January 13th, 2005, 09:28 PM
Stray cat inherits house, trust fund
Widow leaves everything to Tinker, including $227,000

Mary Vallis
National Post, with files from news services

May 7, 2003

This house in northwest London is owned by Tinker, a cat, cared for by a retired couple across the street.
CREDIT: Johnny Green, The Associated Press


Tinker, a stray black cat who befriended an elderly widow, has inherited a three-bedroom house and a $227,000 trust fund so he can comfortably live out his remaining days.

Margaret Layne, 89, had no children and lived alone on Suffolk Street in Harrow, in northwest London, after her husband passed away. She died last year.

In her will, which was published this week, Mrs. Layne says Tinker should have the run of the house -- valued at nearly $800,000 -- until he dies, or until 21 years have passed. The cat is believed to be about eight years old.

But Tinker's good fortune comes with a condition. If he wanders away permanently, his trust will end and the estate will pass to the trustees, Ann and Eugene Wheatley, a retired couple who live across the road.

"She was very much an animal person," Mr. Wheatley, 75, said of his former neighbour yesterday."Clearly, she wanted somebody to look after the cat, and she elected my wife."

Mrs. Wheatley cared for Mrs. Layne in her final years, often taking calls from her in the middle of the night, he said.

The Wheatleys are in charge of Tinker's trust and have been delivering food and milk to him every day. However, they are not enjoying the attention that has come along with it, having been deluged with calls from curious reporters since Mrs. Layne's will was announced in the London Times.

Tinker's inheritance is not as grand as it sounds, Mr. Wheatley added. Most of Mrs. Layne's money was invested in the plunging stock market; he estimates the cat's trust was worth about $45,000 yesterday. Her former home also needs renovations inside and out.

Despite Mrs. Layne's death, Tinker is not wanting for companionship. One of the Wheatleys' own cats, Lucy, moved across the road after she had a litter of kittens.

A white cat named Stardust has also joined them (the Wheatleys took him in when a friend could no longer look after him).

The only other significant item Mrs. Layne included in her will was an oil painting by a local artist that she left to the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe; it depicts the town's main road.

Her husband, Thomas, a surveyor, was a student at the school between 1915 and 1924. He died about 10 years ago.

National Post 2003

February 12th, 2005, 12:44 PM
I posted this story when it first came out in 2003 but it is no longer on this board. Here is an update on it:

Feb 9 2005

By Daniel Boffey

A CAT which inherited 450,000 has been moved to a secret safe house after a series of death threats.

Tinker was given a 350,000 three-bedroom house and 100,000 when widow Margaret Layne died aged 89 last year.

But now neighbours Eugene and Ann Wheatley, trustees of his fortune, have moved the moggy from Harrow, North London.

Mr Wheatley, 77, said: "He is safe now in a place in mid-Wales but I dare not say where exactly.

"After the news of Tinker's inheritance we got hundreds of calls from people jealous of his money. It was horrible."

Tinker had been a stray before childless Ms Layne took him in.

Mr Wheatley said after her death: "She didn't trust people - she trusted animals."