You know him as the lead singer of Queen, one of the greatest voices in rock history. But did you know that Freddie Mercury loved his cats almost as much as he loves music?
Mercury got his first two cats in the early 1970s. His girlfriend at the time, Mary Austin, brought home two felines named Tom and Jerry one day, and that was it—he was a very active cat person from then on.
After Mercury and Austin broke up, they remained very close. Austin would housesit for Mercury while Queen was out on tour in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Her main duty was to look after the cats…and to answer the phone when Mercury called the house every night to talk to the cats. Austin would hold the phone up to the cats, and Mercury would reportedly speak with each and every one of them. Which was a lot—at his cat-loving peak, Mercury had as many as10 cats.
In 1985, Mercury released his first solo album, Mr. Bad Guy. It’s not a concept album about cats, but a lot of the songs on it are about cats. Further, the album is dedicated to “My cat Jerry, also Tom, Oscar, and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe. Screw everybody else.”
The cover of Innuendo, Queen’s final album with Mercury, features a photo of Mercury dressed up like a court jester. A cat sits on each of his shoulders and another one is playing around on top of his head. Innuendo also includes the song “Delilah.” That’s not about a woman—it’s about one of Mercury’s cats. (It’s easy to tell, because Mercury sings a line about how Delilah “makes [him] slightly mad when you pee all over my Chippendale Suite.”
The last portrait of Mercury taken before is death in 1991 was included in the liner notes of the Queen greatest hits album Classic Queen. Mercury wears a vest covered in pictures of cats. It was custom-made for him—all of the cats on it are representations of his actual cats at the time.