Prue Leith has admitted she drowned a litter of kittens as a child on the instructions of her mother.
The Great British Bake Off judge recalled the shocking act in her memoir I’ll Try Anything Once, admitting the traumatic experience had plagued her for weeks afterwards.
Prue, who was 11 years old at the time, said her mother had told her to kill the bag of newborn cats just hours after their birth.
“My mother and I, then 11, had just drowned some kittens… and for weeks I imagined those poor dead creatures,” she wrote.
“Too many kittens was a frequent occurrence and there had come a day when my mother, unable to find homes for yet another litter, decided to drown the latest batch.”
Prue Leith (Photo: Karwai Tang via Getty Images)
Prue said she tried to persuade her mother against it, but her protests “were met with a firm, ‘Darling, it has to be done. They are only a few hours old. They will hardly know it’s happening’”.
Despite her mother’s assurances, the TV personality said the kittens “fought like the devil for life”.
“I held the bag under the water until the last kitten had stopped mewing,” she said.
Prue explained to HuffPost why she decided to include this story in her new memoir.
“This happened in the early 1940′s, when I was 11 years old, being brought up on a farm in South Africa,” she wrote in an emailed statement.
“I wrote about it honestly in my book, as an 11 year old it was an extremely traumatic experience, not one I would forget, however it is what happened 70 years ago.”
She also advocated neutering and spaying pets.
“Thankfully today in the UK we have the choice of neutering our cats and have more options to home kittens, although sadly in some parts of the world it is still an issue.”
Earlier this year, Prue admitted she and Paul Hollywood have very different feelings towards the celebrity status they have as a result of being judges on Bake Off.
Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. (Photo: C4/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon via PA Media)
The pair have judged the baking competition together since 2017, when Prue took over from Mary Berry after the show’s move to Channel 4.
Paul has made headlines on several occasions after speaking out about the pitfalls of being in the public eye, claiming being a celebrity had turned him into a “hermit” and admitting he’d think twice about signing up for Bake Off knowing everything that comes with it.
Speaking about her fellow judge’s feelings, Prue told the PA news agency: “He’s always very good-tempered, if we’re somewhere and somebody comes up and wants us to do a selfie, he’ll say ‘oh all right then,’ but he doesn’t like it. He would much prefer to be somewhere nobody will see him.
“Whereas I think I’m quite grateful for it, these are the people who pay my wages.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.