One man's story of recovery and the cat that saved him

One man's story of recovery and the cat that saved him


Street Car Bob Book_L
Photo: Hodder
A Street Cat Named Bob
By James Bowen
Published by Hodder
ISBN 978-1444737110

James Bowen's problems began at three years old when his parents separated and his mother took him from England to Australia. His mother remarried, Bowen didn't get on with his stepfather and growing up was hard. He changed schools often as his mum moved from town to town, and by the time Bowen became a teenager, he saw no future at all in Australia.

At 18, he made a big decision. He bought a ticket back to London to start over. After a short time living with his half-sister, Bowen found himself alone and homeless. He took to begging and sleeping in doorways, sinking lower and lower, and perhaps inevitably drifting into drugs. At times, he feared he might lose the will to go on.

But after a few years of living friendless on the streets, Bowen began the slow road to recovery. He started to earn a little money and rented a room to get off the streets at night. Then, as he was arriving home one night five years ago, something happened that changed his life forever.

Cowering in a corner near the bottom of the staircase, James saw a frightened, ginger street cat. It was obvious that the cat was abandoned and unwell. The last thing Bowen needed was another soul to look after, but the young man couldn't turn his back on the poor animal. He took the cat to his room, fed it and began nursing it back to health. He named the cat Bob.

Bowen's plan was to put Bob back on the street to fend for himself once he had recovered. But Bob had other ideas. He wanted to stay. The cat's favourite place was sitting on Bowen's shoulder, and loved to accompany his new human friend wherever he went. The pair soon became a familiar sight in central London.

Eventually a literary agent realised there was a story worth sharing and asked Bowen to write a book. Six months later, it was finished, and set to shoot to the top of the bestsellers' charts in Britain. At present, the story has been translated into 18 languages and appears poised to conquer America.

A Street Cat Named Bob is the moving, funny and heartwarming story of an unusual and life-changing friendship. Bowen proves to be a natural storyteller, avoiding sentimentality, and never glossing over the tough times both cat and human went through.

Readers don't need to be cat lovers to appreciate their bond. Stories don't come much more captivating than this heart-warming tale of hope and friendship on the unfriendly streets of London.

John Millen can be contacted on



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