A formerly stray black cat is living the high life after being taken in by a couple six months before they won the lottery.
Tony, 71, and Deb Pearce, 63, started feeding Billy at a time when they were struggling financially.
The Essex couple feared they would have to sell their house after going into debt in 2017 – until they scored £1million on the National Lottery.
Rumor has it that black cats are unlucky, but they say nothing could be further from the truth.
Nowadays, pet owners “jump through hoops” for Billy’s specialist catering whims, as he holidays with them at their second home in Norfolk.
Deb has joked that she wonders “who is the National Lottery millionaire here?”
But there’s no doubt that she and Tony have also enjoyed their newfound wealth – spending it on holidays and dream weddings.
“When Billy showed up, we were close to selling our beloved home and leaving ourselves,” explained Deb.
“Tony had stopped working due to ill health and we were in serious debt.
“It looked like our only option was to go into rental accommodation when, six months after Billy arrived, lady luck struck and our lives changed for good.
“We were able to live in our home and renovate it into our own perfect piece of heaven.
“We’ve had holidays away and closer to home we bought a place in Norfolk, somewhere we’ve always loved spending time and somewhere the whole family can enjoy.
‘To top it off, we finally said ‘I do’ at our dream wedding.’
Billy, believed to be 8, has been diagnosed with diabetes, meaning he has been put on a tailored hypoallergenic diet.
“Apart from having us on call for his twice-daily injections, we’re also jumping through hoops for his catering cravings,” said Deb.
“Maybe it’s because of his lost days when he must have had a very varied diet, but now we have to keep a variety of food for him.
“If he has more than three days at the same taste, he turns his nose up, and while he enjoys the chicken and veggie meal, Billy doesn’t like the peas.
“I find myself rummaging through his food, picking out the peas and wondering who’s a National Lottery millionaire around here?”
Tony said they have bought a “big carrier” for Billy to travel with them to their holiday home in Norfolk “so he has room to move around on the journey”.
He said, ‘Now, every time the transporter comes out of the loft, he jumps in as if to say, “Come on, let’s get going!”
“To ensure Norfolk is a home from home, he has exactly the same set-up there as he has in Essex and this level of attention seems to suit him well.
“He comes, sniffs around the terrace a bit and then settles down as if he’s never been away.
“When I find myself footing the bill for vet care or Billy’s specialist food, which comes in at more than our annual trip to The Savoy, I can’t help but think that Billy might be lucky too.
“It’s not a bad life for a Southend stray who clearly turned up on the right doorstep at the right time and proved to us that black cats are indeed lucky!”
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