The story of a stray musician and a red street cat is known all over the world.

James Bowen

Before I tell you about the street cat Bob, let me introduce you James Bowen.

This story begins with a poor boy who did not find a home, even when he had a family and a place to live. On March 15, 1979, in Surrey County, England, a little boy named James Bowen was born. But the family broke up, and James’s mother took him to Australia. There, a series of schools were waiting for him. The boy had no time to make friends; he was often poisoned by his classmates, and in high school, James dropped out of school altogether.

Street cat Bob
© Capital Pictures / EAST NEWS

At 17, Bowen returned to England, where he would live with his older sister (from his father’s previous marriage) and her husband. But their relationship did not work out, and James began to spend more and more nights on the street. He finally left home and earned his living playing guitar in parks and streets, sleeping in the open air, or in bed. Depression and mental illness led to the fact that he began taking illegal substances.

People do not want to listen. All they see is a person who, in their opinion, wants to take a free ride at their expense. They do not understand that I work, not beg. I try to earn my living. If I don’t wear a suit and tie, don’t wear a briefcase, and don’t sit at the computer, it doesn’t mean I’m a slacker.

James Bowen

James tried to get out of the loop of addiction and, in spring 2007, began to participate in the rehabilitation program. He played guitar on the streets of Covent Garden and lived in an apartment in north London that was provided to him by the municipality.

How it started

One evening, he returned home and found a red cat in the lobby. James decided that he was a pet of one of the tenants, so he simply closed the door, leaving the animal outside. But the cat came both the next day and the next day. Bowen examined the fluffy cat and did not find a collar or a badge, but he saw that the poor man hurt his paw and needed treatment. James decided to help the cat, whom he called Bob – by the name of the character who personified evil in the mystical series “Twin Peaks”.

Street cat Bob
Facebook group

Cats are known for their captiousness and selectivity. They decide who to give their love to. If a cat does not like its owner, he will leave and find another one.

James Bowen

Having met a creature in an even more pitiful position than he, James gained inner strength. He cured the cat’s paw and helped to get rid of fleas. Unlike his freedom-loving brothers, Bob did not think of walking by himself, but willingly accompanied James on his trips to Covent Garden, proudly sitting on the musician’s shoulder. During the performances, the cat sat quietly next to his friend or showed small tricks to the joy of passers-by.

How a street cat Bob saved the life of a poor musician and made him famous worldwide
streetcatnamedbob

People saw me with a cat, and it softened their opinion about me, humanized me. In a way, my personality returned to me. Previously I was a “non-human”, but now I became a human being again.

James Bowen

Bowen’s concerts began to attract more viewers. They willingly shot a video and posted it on YouTube. James (and Bob!) had fans who came to Covent Garden, especially for their performances.

Glory and love

In addition to street performances, James was selling The Big Issue magazine in the Islington area, and thanks to a fluffy partner, the guy had no problem finding regular customers. Over time, Bob became a real star and even appeared on the cover of this edition.

Cat Bob in the magazine
streetcatnamedbob

After Bowen was interviewed for a local newspaper, he was noticed by literary agent Mary Panchos. “It was a terribly frosty winter day,” Panchos recalled. – This guy was shivering with cold, and then I looked down and saw a cat sitting on a stack of magazines and said to myself, ‘This can’t be happening. I have never seen a cat do that. Dogs are, but not cats.

How a street cat Bob saved the life of a poor musician and made him famous worldwide
© Luke MacGregor / Reuters

Mary convinced James that his story with Bob deserved a separate book. She introduced a young man to the writer Harry Jenkins, who helped James write his first book. At first, the musician himself did not believe in this idea’s success, but his touching and direct story conquered the world. The book “Street Cat named Bob” in Britain alone was sold more than 1 million copies. It was also translated into dozens of languages, from Russian to Japanese.

The fantastic cat

Bob was indeed a fantastic cat. He opened his doors and even learned to use the toilet himself. Some tried to compare it with Garfield, the famous comic book cat, but James disagrees that they are similar: his friend is not so cynical and lazy. Bob was more like a cat Buddha. He was just as calm and wise.

Street cat Bob
streetcatnamedbob

The story received two sequels: “The World through the Eyes of Bob” and “A Gift from Cat Bob”. James also wrote several adaptations for children. And in 2018 came out “Little Book of Cat Bob: Life Lessons from the Wise Street Cats” – the edition contains a story in which Bowen collected all the wisdom he had accumulated over the years with Bob.

Interesting unknown facts about cats

In 2016, the first two books shot the film “Cat named Bob”, where the main roles played Luke Treadaway and Bob himself. A year later, the film won the British National Film Award in the category “Best British film”.

Bob graciously welcomed the guests to the premiere of the film in London. Even the Duchess of Cambridge wanted to pet a cat.

How a street cat Bob saved the life of a poor musician and made him famous worldwide
© PAPIXS / EAST NEWS

At first, James and Bob lived in the same apartment, but already for the full rent price (previously paid by the municipal authorities), but later, Bowen managed to buy his house. Bob had a friend, another red cat named Jinksy. James recorded songs, shot cartoons about Bob and his friends’ adventures, and even developed a game application. The money raised by Bowen generously donated to shelters for stray animals and projects for the rehabilitation of homeless people and addiction treatment.

Forever in our hearts

A ginger miracle named Bob lived a long and happy cat life next to James. Together friends visited different countries of the world, including Japan, and everywhere they were welcomed by grateful readers. Bob went to the rainbow on June 15, 2020, just a few days after another online meeting with fans. Until the last day, an extraordinary cat delighted thousands of people and helped them believe in the best. Almost as well as he once helped James.

How a street cat Bob saved the life of a poor musician and made him famous worldwide
© Luke MacGregor / Reuters

The street cat Bob saved my life. This is exactly so, and no other way. He gave me much more than friendship. Next to him, I found the right direction and purpose in life that I missed so much. The success we achieved together through our books and films was a real miracle. Bob met thousands of people and touched millions of lives. There was no other cat like him in the world. And he will never be.

James Bowen

Read more about ginger cats here


Article by Stanley Harrison

Article by Stanley Harrison – a passionate cat lover who always ready to share his experience with readers. Happy owner of two cats – Chloe and Leo, a dog Rocky and a parrot Tweety

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