As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the loss of Freddie Mercury, it’s nice to remember that he was not only a great musician but also a passionate cat lover.
Mary Austin, his former partner, bought him the first pair of cats, Tom and Jerry, in the early 1970s. Then they were followed through the years by Tiffany, Dorothy, Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar, and Romeo.
Freddie treated the cats like his own children. He would constantly fuss over them, and if any of them came to any harm when he was away, he would get really mad.
The cats would receive their own stockings at Christmas and when Freddie was on tour he would call home and Mary or his personal assistant Peter would hold the cats up to the receiver so he could “talk” to them.
Freddie loved all his cats deeply but Delilah, a beautiful rescue calico, was “the Queen” of his heart and home, the one he’d pick up and stroke the most often. He even wrote a song about her.
On the last tour, every two or three days he would ring home and he would want to talk to Delilah.
Someone would pick her up, put the speaker down by her mouth and squeeze her a bit to make her meow so that Freddie could say he had spoken to Delilah and that would make him really happy.
Delilah can be seen (with Miko) right by Freddie’s side in the last-ever picture taken of the star, having breakfast in bed with his cats.
In fact, one of his final actions before passing was actually stroking her fur.
Freddie used to say: ‘You own dogs, cats own you.’ and that was one of the reasons he loved cats. Freddie liked their temperament.
Freddie even dedicated his solo album, Mr Bad Guy, to his cats:
“To my cat Jerry — also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe—screw everybody else.”
He commissioned artist Ann Ortman to paint all his cats over the years and the artwork for the album Innuendo shows the Queen frontman with three cats wrapped around his head and neck.
And for his final video shoot for the These Are the Days of Our Lives, he wore his favourite waistcoat, a 1990 Christmas gift which was screen-printed with his cats.
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