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Old May 13th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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Tinker's life is the cat's meow

Tinker's life is the cat's meow

LONDON - It's the stuff of cat dreams: stray finds rich old widow, visits her regularly, and is rewarded with a million-dollar fortune when she dies.

For Tinker to hang on to his new house and trust fund, however, he'll have to learn to stay put.

If the eight-year-old black tomcat goes roaming and doesn't come back, he forfeits his new house, worth almost $800,000.

The windfall came to Tinker from Margaret Layne, and there is a clause in her will stripping him of his bounty should he stray again.

Some human benefactors come with Tinker's package.

Layne named neighbour Eugene Wheatley and his wife to manage a $226,000 trust fund on Tinker's behalf. They also minister to his nutritional needs, dropping off milk and food every day.

"Oh, he likes fish, or meat, or mince," Wheatley, 75, said.

Despite Tinker's newfound economic security, Kim Pearse of the Mahew Animal Home said pets are frequently left homes and money, but it's not necessarily in their best interest.

"They miss people. And I think being on their own can make that even worse. They need attention. They need to feel secure," she said.

Right now, Tinker is getting some attention from the ladies. Lucky, a single mother cat, and white puffball Stardust have both moved in with him.

At least one neighbour thought the house could have gone to better use.

"A bit pathetic really, to be honest," said Brian Howard. "There's people starving, dying and got nowhere to live and the house is left to a cat?"
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