Cat treated like a king by lottery winners who won prize after he joined family

A former stray cat is now treated like a king thanks to his lottery winner owners who adopted him months before their £1million scoop.

Tony Pearce, 71, and his 63-year-old wife Deb Pearce from Southend, Essex, won the National Lottery in 2017 which they believe to have been down to a lucky new arrival in Billy.

The black cat came into the couple's lives when they faced financial hardship, but six months after taking him in, nothing was the same again.

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Spoilt Billy, who is thought to be eight-years-old, has a "huge carrier" so he can travel with Tony and Deb and indulge in the riches of the lottery win.

Mrs Pearce said: "Some people say black cats are unlucky, I'd say nothing could be further from the truth!"

"When Billy appeared we were close to selling our beloved home and becoming strays ourselves. Tony had stopped working due to ill health and we were in serious debt. It looked like our only option was to go into rented accommodation then, six months after Billy arrived, lady luck struck and our lives changed for good."

"We were able to stay in our home and renovate it into our own perfect slice of heaven. We've enjoyed holidays away and, closer to home, bought a place in Norfolk, somewhere we have always loved spending time and somewhere the whole family can enjoy. To top it off, we finally said 'I do' at our dream wedding," she added.

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Billy is now part of the family and the couple have spared no expense in looking after him, paying for twice daily insulin injections after he was diagnosed with diabetes and putting him on a tailored hypoallergenic diet.

Aside from having us on call for his twice-daily injections, we also jump through hoops for his catering whims," said Mrs Pearce.

"Perhaps it's due to his days as a stray when he must have enjoyed a very varied diet, but now we have to keep a selection of food for him.

"If he has more than three days on the same flavour he turns up his nose and while he enjoys the chicken and vegetable meal, Billy doesn't like the peas. I find myself rooting through his food, picking out the peas and wondering who is the National Lottery millionaire around here?!"

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Mr Pearce said he bought a "huge carrier" for Billy to travel with them to their Norfolk holiday home "so he has space to move about on the journey".

"I thought he might find it too stressful the first time but he settled down and slept the whole way," he said.

"Now, whenever the carrier comes out of the loft he hops in as if to say 'come on, let's get going!'

"To make sure Norfolk is a home from home, he has the exact same set-up there as he has in Essex and this level of attention seems to suit him well. He arrives, has a little sniff around the decking and then settles down as though he's never been away."

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The Pearces don't regret indulging Billy.

"When I find myself paying the bill for vet care or Billy's specialist diet, that comes in at more than our annual trip to The Savoy, I can't help thinking that it might be Billy who is also lucky.

"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 in fact lucky!" said Mr. Pearce.

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