A Street Cat Named Bob written by James Bowen is an amazing story of one cat and the man who nursed him back to health, and the bond that formed between them – which ultimately turned James’ life around.

It’s a very poignant and moving book and on more than one occasion, I was reduced to tears. But there is humour too, plenty of it, and anything to do with cats will always have my interest. Bob is a wonderful ginger cat (who looks very much like my Ollie) who turned up at the place where James lives. Initially, James didn’t take much notice of Bob but after a few days when it was quite apparent that Bob hadn’t moved from the spot, James took a look at him and saw that he had an injury on his leg with pus oozing out. Taking him to the RSPCA who gave him antibiotics, he nursed Bob back to health. Once Bob was better, James thought that the cat would probably be on his way and released him one morning. But surprisingly instead of running off, the cat followed him down the road to the bus stop and got on the bus with him.

James had been a heroin addict, had been homeless and had reached rock bottom. There’s no place lower than rock bottom and over a period of time, he had begun to get his life sorted out, first going into a hostel from living off the streets, and then into supported housing. Now in a flat in Tottenham, with Bob along side him, he has completely turned his life around. Coming off heroin he was on a methadone programme for a while when he decided he wanted to come off that as well, and he took the incredibly brave step to the next level where he was prescribed Subutex which would ease him off his drug dependency – and one which would then help him to live his life cleanly again and without the need for wanting drugs.

Throughout this latter part of James’ journey, his one constant companion was Bob; all Bob ever asked for was love and a couple of biscuits. In return he gave James a reason to live, a reason to go on, and a reason to clean up his life and try to be a better person. It’s easy to look down on someone who lives on the streets; it’s easy to think that they are not worth bothering with. James said in his book that when you’re busking or living on the streets, you’re invisible, that people take no notice of you, or are abusive towards you because they think you should be doing a proper job.

James was used to getting a lot of abuse when he was busking in the Covent Garden area of London and the tube staff at Covent Garden tube station were among the worst offenders. So James decided to try and sell the Big Issue instead, in a different area of London, and it was to be the making of him. Mary Pachnos, a literary agent, saw him each day for over a week and finally plucked up the courage to ask if he’d like to write a book about his and Bob’s experiences – and the result is this amazing book which is now a number one best seller at the top of the Times’ best seller list.

There are many ‘You Tube’ links to James and Bob; just type in ‘You Tube: Bobcat and I’, or ‘Bob the Big Issue Cat’ and a whole raft of other links will pop up too. There are a couple of interviews which last about 7 or 8 minutes from two different breakfast television shows. Bob sits on the sofa with his knitted scarf kindly made by an adoring fan, totally unfazed by the cameras, lights, or anything else going on around him. James is a natural for television, and it’s easy to see that they love each other. My favourite thing that Bob does is a ‘high five’ when James puts his hand up and Bob touches it with his paw. I wish I could get my cats to do that! 

I read this book in two days flat. I just could not put it down. James’ writing style is easy-flowing and interesting without a trace of bitterness, anger, or arrogance. He is a very likeable, personable young man, and Bob is what he is: a fabulous ginger cat, who’s so laid back, he’s almost horizontal!

Out in hardback, available direct from www.hodder.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com, it is also available as an ebook.  It has already been translated in to several (I think its 15) different languages and there is talk of a film possibly in the near future. I hope James will be able to play himself, and of course, there couldn’t be a better cat to star as Bob than Bob himself; their chemistry is just so unique.

The ISBN number is: 978-1-444-73709-7. 

To read an interview with James please click here:



A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.


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