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John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady

John Lennon was crazy about cats. Over the years, he owned several, plus a few dogs. These are their stories.

Growing up, Lennon had a cat named Elvis, who was owned by his beloved mother, Julia. Julia was worshiped by young John, and they were both crazy about Elvis Presley. The Lennons realized they had misnamed Elvis when “he” gave birth to a littler of kittens in the cupboard. But still the name of their favorite singer remained tagged to the new mother.

Tich and Sam
He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960).

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John’s beloved Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith’s, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats.

As a famous Beatle, traveling all over the world, John would often call and check on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

(At left, Aunt Mimi holds Tim.)

As a teenager, John Lennon had just one dog, named Sally. It was reported that when Sally died, John was inconsolable; a witness said it was “the only time I ever saw John cry.”

John later gave his first wife, Cynthia, a dog named Bernard as a gift. Bernard and Sally were to be John’s only two pet dogs.

Mimi and Babaghi
John and Cynthia also had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby, who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats until they eventually owned around 10 of them.

(At left, Cynthia and John with one of their many cats.)

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name may have been (or probably was) John’s sarcastic response to his “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus” controversy of 1966. (Paul McCartney also once owned a cat named Jesus, too.)

Major and Minor
In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary. One day she brought a box of stray kittens into the recording studio.

“No, no!” John immediately protested, “I know what you’re thinking! We can’t adopt them!” But she had John pick up the kittens, and then he couldn’t resist.

They adopted two of the kittens and named them Major and Minor.

Salt and Pepper
John also had two cats with his later wife, Yoko Ono. One was black, one was white. As befitting John’s offbeat sense of humor, he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

(At left, Yoko and John with Salt.)

John’s Russian Blue cat named Alice, however, was his special favorite.

One day, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons’ high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean Lennon, John’s son, was present at the time of the accident. He remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

Misha, Sasha, and Charo

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo.

Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats. He used some of the cats’ pictures as illustrations in his books.

(At left is one of his cat illustrations from Real Love: The Drawings for Sean.)

Eddie Deezen has appeared in over 30 motion pictures, including Grease, WarGames, 1941, and The Polar Express. He’s also been featured in several TV shows, including Magnum PI, The Facts of Life, and The Gong Show. And he’s done thousands of voice-overs for radio and cartoons, such as Dexter’s Laboratory and Family Guy.

Read all Eddie’s mental_floss stories.


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