Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985

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Despite media attempts at the time to portray Freddie’s final days as desperately lonely and pitiful, he was surrounded by friends and loved ones 24 hours a day, making sure he was never alone. The Queen star was looked after 24/7 by his partner Jim Hutton, ex-girlfriend Mary Austin, live-in chef and ex-boyfriend Joe Fanelli, close friend Dave Clarke, and PA and friend Peter Freestone. Not only that, he had his “children” around him, with six of his beloved cats in the house. One “ruled the roost”, one left and never came back after Freddie died and one was his favourite. She is there with him in bed, in the last-ever picture taken off the ailing icon.

Freddie’s long-term girlfriend Mary Austin bought them the first pair of cats in the early 1970s. Tom and Jerry were followed through the years by Tiffany, Dorothy, Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar, and Romeo. 

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 Freestone would hold the cats up to the receiver. 

Peter said of Delilah, who arrived at the house with black cat Goliath: “Freddie wouldn’t do anything without her. She was a..hmmm.. I think the word is spoiled. She got everything she wanted. On the last tour, I was at home. Every two or three days he would ring and he would want to talk to a cat. You pick her up, put her under your arm, put the speaker down by her mouth and squeeze (to make her miaow). And then he could say he had spoken to Delilah and he was really happy.

Jim said Delilah was “the little princess of their home, the one he’d pick up and stroke the most often… One of his final actions was stroking her fur.”

She can be seen with Freddie and Miko is the last-ever picture taken of the star, having breakfast in bed with his cats.

Jacky Smith, who ran Queen’s fan club said Delilah “She was a real character, that lady. She was a bit of a bully to the others, but was always first on his lap, first for food.”

The album Innuendo includes a track written about the cat and named for her. The lyrics of Delilah include the classic lines “when you throw a moody you’re all claws and you bite,” and “you make me slightly mad, when you pee all over my Chippendale suite.”

Another famous picture shows Freddie in his garden in August, 1991. By then his health was fading and he was usually confined inside, but he made a special effort to dress himself in his nicest clothes and took Jim by surprise as he was photographing some flowers. The cat by his side is Oscar.

Peter said: “Oscar was the first cat at Garden Lodge. He was a big ginger Tom. He ruled the roost. Until when Fred died, he just left. He left the house. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He found another owner.

“Freddie used to say, ‘You own dogs, cats own you.’ I think that was one of the reasons he loved cats. Freddie liked their temperament.”

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Jim said: “Freddie treated the cats like his own children. He would constantly fuss over them, and if any of them came to any harm when Freddie was away, heaven help us. During the day, the cats had the run of the house and grounds, and at night, one of us would round them up and bring them inside.”

Freddie even dedicated his solo album, Mr Bad Guy, to them: “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 screen-printed with his cats.

Apart from original pair Tom and Jerry, and then Tiffany, the only thoroughbred cat he ever had, the others were “saved”by Freddie.

Jacky said: “Most of them were from rescue centres. We have a charity called The Blue Cross, which takes care of sick animals. Freddie got at least two from them.”

The star lavished love and attention on them throughout his life and made sure they were looked after when he was gone. He once joked: “If I go first, I’m going to leave everything to her (Mary). Nobody else gets a penny, except my cats.”

In the end he left Mary his house, fortune and half his future Queen earnings. The other half went to his parents and sister, with £500,000 each bequeathed to Jim, Joe and Peter. 

The cats remained at Garden Lodge (except Oscar) and Delilah was often spotted up on the garden wall.

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