Meet Freddie Mercury and His Faithful Feline Friends

Ooh, you make me so very hap­py
You give me kiss­es and I go out of my mind, ooh

Mee­ow mee­ow mee­ow
You’re irre­sistible — I love you, Delilah
Delilah, I love you.

—Fred­die Mer­cury

Next time you meet a cat called Delilah, ask her if she was named for Fred­die Mercury’s #1 Pussy­cat.

Like many child­less adults’ pets, Mercury’s cats loomed large, enjoy­ing night­ly phone check-ins when he was on the road, Christ­mas stock­ings, and spe­cial­ly pre­pared food.

Unlike most child­less adults’ pets, Mercury’s feline friends alleged­ly occu­pied their own bed­rooms in his Lon­don man­sion, and were the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries of his will, along with Mary Austin, his close friend and one-time fiancée.

(Fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of their romance, she float­ed the idea of hav­ing a child togeth­er, a pro­pos­al he reject­ed, say­ing that he would rather have anoth­er cat.)

Mer­cury must’ve tak­en com­fort in know­ing that it wasn’t his celebri­ty the cats were cozy­ing up to, even if they did take advan­tage of his gen­eros­i­ty where fresh chick­en and cat toys were con­cerned.

To them, he was just anoth­er human with a can open­er, a lap, and a capac­i­ty for rock star-sized melt­downs should one of them go miss­ing. (He chucked a hibachi through the win­dow of a guest bed­room when Goliath, his black kit­ten, went on tem­po­rary walk­a­bout.)

Short­ly before Mer­cury’s death, he paid trib­ute to his favorite, Delilah, in a song his Queen band­mates grudg­ing­ly agreed to record, gui­tarist Bri­an May even acqui­esc­ing to a talk box to achieve the nec­es­sary “meow” sounds.

Around the same time, a thought­ful friend arranged for the oth­er mem­bers of Mercury’s beloved menagerie to be immor­tal­ized on a cus­tom-paint­ed vest, which the singer can be seen sport­ing in the offi­cial music video for Queen’s “These Are The Days Of Our Lives,” as well as his final por­trait.

(I’ll have a thought for Fred­die next time I’m in my home state, where a trip to the mall reveals any num­ber of sim­i­lar sar­to­r­i­al dis­plays, most notice­ably on ladies resem­bling my grand­moth­er and her sis­ters…)

Accord­ing to Mercury’s per­son­al assis­tant, Peter “Phoebe” Free­stone, most of Mercury’s cat babies were even­tu­al­ly farmed out to oth­er homes, though his “princess”, Delilah, remained in res­i­dence with a cou­ple of oth­ers, cared for by Austin.

And because there are sure­ly those among our read­ers burn­ing to know if Fred­die Mer­cury swung both ways, we took a deep­er dive through some of Freestone’s mem­o­ries, and dis­cov­ered that:

Fred­die didn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly like or dis­like dogs. He wouldn’t go out of his way to avoid them and he had many friends who had dogs at home. He would play with them and stroke them if they came to him when he was vis­it­ing. He just loved cats. He felt that cats were much more inde­pen­dent than dogs and he was very hap­py that his felines had cho­sen him to be their mas­ter.

Find more pic­ture of Fred­die and his cats over at Dan­ger­ous Minds, Bored Pan­da and Vin­tage Every­day–most of which were tak­en by Peter Free­stone.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Fred­die Mer­cury Reimag­ined as Com­ic Book Heroes

A Stun­ning Live Con­cert Film of Queen Per­form­ing in Mon­tre­al, Dig­i­tal­ly Restored to Per­fec­tion (1981)

Watch Behind-the-Scenes Footage From Fred­die Mercury’s Final Video Per­for­mance

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City May 13 for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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