Former Made in Chelsea star now concentrating on animal welfare
Former ‘Made in Chelsea’ star Lucy Watson chats cats with Jill Eckersley.
Fans of reality show ‘Made in Chelsea’ might be surprised to learn that Chelsea girl Lucy Watson actually grew up on a farm — and has been an animal lover ever since. Lucy left the show last autumn and since then has concentrated on animal welfare work. She is a global ambassador for PETA, the animal rights charity, and is working on her own vegan-friendly make-up range.
Lucy rehomed her current cat Darcy from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home two years ago. She has had cats in her life for almost as long as she can remember.
“We found my first kitten, Phoebe, hiding behind a beam in one of our outbuildings, when I was about eight years old,” she remembers. “We were never sure exactly where she had come from, but there was a story in our local paper about a litter of kittens who had been dumped in a bin, and we think that she was one of them and had crossed the fields and found a home with us.
“Phoebe still lives with my mum. She must be at least 17 now, perhaps older. When I was growing up, Phoebe was my bestie. She was very loyal and liked to stay close to me. She seemed to know when I was upset and comforted me through difficult times, like my parents’ divorce and our house move.”
Lucy began work as an estate agent but, as she worked very long hours, Phoebe stayed with her mum.
She remembers: “We took on a property to sell where the owners were returning to South Africa. They had a big ginger cat they needed to rehome and, of course, I couldn’t resist him. But I felt he needed more company at home than I could give him, so I took him to Mum’s too. We called him Keith Lemon and he later moved in with another family in the village.”
Lucy’s TV work allowed her to think about getting another cat. She knew how many rescue cats were waiting for new homes and Battersea seemed the obvious place to go.
“I didn’t have a fixed idea of the sort of cat I wanted and when they offered me a grey tabby I was happy to meet him — but I can’t say he was!” she admits. “When I picked him up he wriggled free and I wondered if I should look at a different cat! But there was just something about Darcy. It took a year after he moved in before he was completely at home with me, and with my dog Digby.
“Occasionally they play-fight — Darcy tries to bite Digby’s ears — but they don’t like to be apart. When I go out with Digby, who goes everywhere I go, Darcy is always waiting for us when we go home. I put a lot of work into getting to know Darcy, buying him lots of toys and spending ages playing with him. He is much more settled now, though he still gets spooked easily! But every animal has their own personality and I love him to pieces.”
Like most cat owners, Lucy is fascinated by her pet’s combination of companionship and independence. She says: “Cats are not as needy as dogs; they are low maintenance and very clean animals.”
Now, with a new career beckoning, Lucy is becoming more and more involved in campaigning on behalf of animals.
“I’ve been a vegetarian since I was six years old,” she says. “Growing up on an organic farm, I just couldn’t eat the animals that I loved and had played with. A year ago, I went vegan after learning about the cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industries. Once you have seen the photos of animals suffering, you just can’t forget it. It can be hard to give up eating things you really enjoy, but I wouldn’t go back to eating animal products now. There is no reason for anyone to wear fur.
“I’m also unhappy about ‘designer’ puppies and kittens. People pay huge sums for pedigrees — it’s all about image — when rescue centres are full of animals who need homes. When I visit Battersea and see all the sad, confused animals just waiting for someone to give them a home, I’m very glad I rescued Darcy!”
This interview was originally published in the February 2017 issue of Your Cat Magazine.