The Independent London Newspaper

Two cool cats... the Big Issue seller and a stray called Bob

Inseparable: musician James Bowen with Bob

Down-on-his-luck musician teams up with ‘wonderful loyal friend’ he rescued from streets

Published: 24 September, 2010
by PETER GRUNER

NOT since the legendary Dick Whittington has a man and his cat become such unlikely celebrities on the streets of Islington.

Big Issue seller James Bowen and his docile ginger cat Bob, who go everywhere together, have been attracting comments since they first appeared outside Angel Tube station.

The story of how they met – widely reported in blogs on the internet – is one of such extraordinary pathos that it seems only a matter of time before we get a Hollywood film.

James, 31, who lives off Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, is a musician who has fallen on hard times. 

He ekes out a basic living selling the homeless people’s magazine Big Issue at Angel and Covent Garden.

Bob was a stray discovered by James outside his accommodation one day. 

The cat was limping after apparently being attacked by another animal, possibly a fox.

After failing to discover the cat’s owner, James took him to the RSPCA hospital at Finsbury Park, which prescribed a course of antibiotics.

“I kept him for two weeks until he was well enough to go on his way,” said James. “But when I opened the front door to let him out Bob wouldn’t move. He seemed to me to be saying: ‘I want to stay with you.’

“Now we go everywhere together. I even have a cat harness when we go out and Bob gets really excited when I show it to him.”

The couple travel on buses and the Tube and walk everywhere together. 

To some, Bob appears more like a dutiful dog than a cat.

But when Bob gets tired he just stops, looks pleadingly at James, who lifts him and drapes him around his neck and shoulders.

“He’s a wonderful loyal friend,” he said. “While I’m selling the magazine he sits contentedly on my bag until lunch time. Then I buy him a tin of cat food.”

Now staff at Angel Tube station are planning to present Bob with a novelty Oyster card – and James admits he sells a lot more Big Issues when Bob is around.

 

Comments

BOB, DER STREUNER

Dear Mr. Bowen!

Today i have bought the german release of "A Street Cat Named Bob"!

Hand over my heart... i have read the whole book in 4 hours and i can say it is A M A Z I N G!

I hope you will have a comfortable life in your further future! I wish you and your life-companion THE B E S T!

Kiss you many times! Feel my strong hug!

Lovely greets from Austria,
Hannah-Lisa

Very cute, I love Bob

Dear Bob and James,
we love cats! My wife gift me your book at our 38th wedding day in Dec. this year. I read it in 2 days. After then I watched videos on youtube. Very cute! We own 2 cats of our daughter, she left with her son about 2 or 3 years ago and we don't know, where she is. Sometimes we have great sorrows when we heard, that her way becomes criminal. So we can only take good care of the cats, but I think, the tomcat choosed me long time ago as his owner. Slowly, very slowly he trusted to me more and more. Most time of the year we live on a campground, so he can live inside and outside. I read so much parallels in your book.
Thank you very much and good luck and a very long life for both of you.
If I come to London, I will surely visit to you.

Wolle from North Germany

Bob and James

i just wanted to say that I have read both your books. I enjoyed them very much even though they pulled at the heart strings.

Please keep up the good work of looking after Bob, he is so cute. As a cat lover , having two of my own. He looks very happy and obviously adores you.

Take care

for bob & james

thank you for the book.
the Name from my cat ist Paul, a street cat 2007.
have a good life bob & James

frank from east germany

saw about you in TV...

... in Germany. They told the story of you both a little bit. I was very interested in your story and bought the book. It is so exiting and lovely. I would like to have a cat like Bob. !! Thank you for sharing it with us. Would be great if you write a second one. Look forward to see the film in Germany.
I love you, James and Bob. All the best to you.

I'm just reading your book

I'm just reading your book and I love it. We also habe 3 male cats, one of them as a stray so I exactely know what you feel and what you mean.
I wish you both a long and happy life!
Greets from Germany
Katrin

Bob and James

Wonderful story - you are both in this world to turn each others lives around and what a great job both of you are doing - keep up the good work

A Street Cat Named Bob

What can I say? Such a moving story of how Bob met James. I think Bob has been sent to guide you James. I just can't wait to see the film which I hope is in the pipeline.
I wish you both a long, safe and happy time together.

Bob & James

What an encourageous story you presented us !
You gave a positive thinking of life to your readers.
Thank you.

James and Bob

I love your book and you both.
You deserve all the best.
Michele

Bob & James

Wonderful story. Loved the book.

Hope everything goes well for you in the future.

Would love to see the film. Sandra

What a wonderful story. Just

What a wonderful story. Just read the book and loved it. My 17-year-old cat is currently curled up next to a warm radiator - he doesn't know how lucky he is! All the best to Bob and James.

Marcus & Josh (Josh is the cat)
Burnley

Bob the cat

Have just finished the book - fantastic. Cats are just wonderful - but the owner also must be something special.

Amazing

Just finished the book in one day . I laughed I cried and I felt James and Bob's love for one another. James you saved Bob's life and now he's saving yours. Good luck to you both in your future and I hope and prey your lives just keeps on getting better and better you both deserve it! Much love Kate

Bob and James

I have just finished reading the book twice through and now passed it on to my daughter who I know will enjoy it as much as I did. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it, and both laughed and cried.

It is such a heartwarming story, knowing that both Bob and James have better lives since coming together, and shows that people can be wrongly judged because of the way their lives have turned out. James is obviously a very kind man which is why Bob has decided to live with him, and cats will only stay with people they trust and know will care for them and in return give unconditional love themselves.

I too have become more of aware of The Big Issue and have started buying one from our local seller. All the best James, I hope things get better and better for you both.

Bob and James ''Fantastic''

I have read the book four times and each time was just like the first time I read it because it was just so beautiful. I have had cats all my life and today Boffin ''the absolute of my life is 44 weeks dead and he was an unbelieveable loving, intellegent and protective cat he actully answered me back when I spoke to him. Bob reminds me so much of him ''Boffin was 17.5 lbs in weight so he was a big cat like Bob and he also walked on a harness. James and Bob have thought me so much about Big Issue sellers and I am sure that I am not alone and I am not proud of this, when I say that I too thought that they were layabouts, but my perception of them has totally changed and I will buy a copy of the Big Issue from now on.
I want to see and hear everything that James and Bob are doing and I wish them all the luck in hte world and Thank you James for taking in and looking afer Bob.
Have a wonderful Christmas and Good health and happiness for the New Year.
Rita

Special soulmates

Bob and James clearly have a unique relationship. Bob is an astonishingly unique cat and so like one we once had who adopted us. Individual, independent, loving, intelligent and fearless, but like a dog in its loyalty and the bond of mutual protection and love. Also determined in doggedly making his needs and wants known.

Those who mistakenly think James is 'using' him to attract attention need to realise that that would not be possible with a cat unless it was in a carrier of sorts. No cat would do what Bob does unless it was his choice. He calls the shots and James listens, rather than the other way around. The lead and harness protect them from getting separated in any sudden dangerous threatening situation on the streets.

I've seen and met James in Covent Garden, talking to them on many occasions (one of the many middle aged women who stopped and chatted. Reading the book was a joy. Very well written and unputdownable. I am now reading it aloud to my mother who is blind and she is loving it. She is a cat person and has 6 former feral cats (all domesticated now)

Your book made me cry and

Your book made me cry and laugh, you really deserve Bob and you're a hero and I hope you and Bob go on to achieve your dreams.

Bob the Streetcat

Read the book and just loved the story, laughed and cried. James and Bob you deserve all the best life can offer now. Two kindred spirits. Mary

Just Fabulous

Read your book on holiday last week, couldnt put it down. Not only a heartwarming story of two lost souls who found each other, but a lesson on how we shouldnt judge a book by its cover. Thanks to your book James, I'll never pass another Big Issue sellar again without buying one, your book was a real insight not only on friendship, but homelessness and hardship. I wish you and Bob all the luck in the world, you both so deserve it. xxx

Bob and James

I've only just been told about James ' meeting with Bob and I will be reading about their story so far. I hope everything goes well for the both of them.

I had my first cat after I got married and although they are very independant animals they also give a lot of love and know when they are needed.

I hope James and Bob have a long relationship together.

Sandra. Nuneaton.

bob the cat

I love the story! Sometimes I tkink: is it really true?

But why not, I had a cat and she understood me too. It is so warm so friendly and sooo hopefull!

And I understand it, although I am from Germany.

Bob the cat

I have just read the book and found it hard to put down, such a heartwarming story.

Well done James for showing kindness to an innocent little soul, in need he has paid you back tenfold.

I wish more people were this kind!

big issue cat

Have just finished reading your book James, what a wonderful, heart warming tale.

a street cat named bob

I bought the book from Costco and started to read it when I got home, my female ginger cat crawled onto my lap and I read it to her - you have a fan Bob.

I laughed, I cried and now my daughter is reading it, brilliant book. Fantastic man you are James to show such compassion.

I believe in karma, I believe that Bob was sent to you to help you get your life back.

I will probably never get to meet you but i just wanted to say: James, I am very proud of you and the journey you have taken.

Bob is an asset to you, keep up the good work. Please write another book, if it's as good as the first one you wont go wrong.

Bob The cat

Just finished the book. What wonderful reading. Just couldn't put it down.

It would be fantastic if James wrote a follow up..... a second book, as both their lives are intertwined it would be interesting ...... what will James do now and how is Bob doing?

A Street Cat Named Bob book

Read the book and it's one of the best stories I've read. Roll on the film.

It only took me 2 days to read because I had to break off and go to work otherwise I would have carried on reading all day.

Bob and James

This is so awesome. I signed up to be notified of when the book's available, thrilled to know the hardback royalties will help support Bob and James.

Cats choose what humans they adopt at least as often as humans adopt cats. When they know what they want and who they want to team up with, they'll come right up and tell you.

James is so lucky Bob found him, they both are. When they find the right batch, life becomes so much better.

My cat's an eleven year old color point long hair, just as devoted. Strictly an indoor cat by his own decision, he became an amazing Traveling Cat. As long as he sees suitcases and boxes, he's content to ride in his carrier and enjoy the trip. He won't get into it without suitcases because he hates the vet, but if I'm packing, we're moving and he'll relax trusting that even if we're temporarily separated, we'll be together again in a good new place.

When I moved to San Francisco last summer on August 1st, we had the best flight of our lives. I booked early and got to have him in the cabin with me. All the flight attendants were charmed by how calm and sweet he was. He slept through most of it content because I was in sight and all was well, we were just moving on again.

He only gets annoyed if we travel so far that we have to stay in a motel, because he's irritated if we move into a lovely clean new place and move out again after only one night. That's far too soon to move again, isn't it?

travel for companion animals

i agree, bob will nEVER travel cargo NEVER, i would love to take him on adventures around the world but only if he travels by my side.

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