A street cat named Bob

James and bob

James Bowen was a recovering heroin addict trying to put his life back together when he met a stray cat who needed a friend as much as he did, and they both needed Blue Cross…

Nine years ago James Bowen’s world was a mess. He had no direction or purpose in life other than survival – and keeping off heroin.  

But all that changed the day a stray and injured ginger tomcat walked into his life and refused to leave. James was living hand to mouth in sheltered accommodation and the last thing he needed was a pet, but he couldn’t resist helping him. He nursed the cat, who he called Bob, back to health and sent him on his way, imagining that he’d never see him again.

But Bob had other plans. After several attempts to follow James up the street, on to the bus and, during one hairy moment, across the street, James realised that Bob was here to stay and it was his job to keep him safe. Equally, Bob had decided it was his job to keep James safe too.

The pair became inseparable and, with each other’s help, James and Bob have healed the scars of their past and transformed their lives. The incredible story of their friendship and adventures on the streets of London became a number one bestselling book internationally, called A Street Cat Named Bob, and has now been turned into a film. 

Street cat Bob no scarf

Bob and James relied on us

Their success is extra special for Blue Cross because we’ve been there for James and Bob over the years. We have a weekly mobile clinic in London which helps pets whose owners can’t afford private fees and James has enlisted our help in the past to microchip Bob and give him general check ups so he can make sure his beloved cat is in excellent health.

So when they came back to say hello a few years after we’d helped them – and now world-famous - we were overjoyed to hear how well they were doing. James said: “Our life is completely different to how it was when Bob and I first met. We’re stopped up to 40 times a week and asked for our autographs. We’ve even had to get a pawprint stamp so Bob can sign too.”

James and Bob treat
James and Bob are inseparable

Most importantly, James has got his life back on track. He no longer has to sell copies of the Big Issue magazine on the streets to survive, but he still pops down to Covent Garden with Bob a couple of times a week to do some busking and smile for photos because that’s where it all began. But, like all pet lovers know, animals have their own agenda.  

He says: “Bob comes out with me most days but it’s never been about using him to attract customers. He’s there because he likes hanging out with me and if he’s not in the mood, he stays at home.”

Since James and Bob got back on their feet, they’ve been generous supporters of Blue Cross, and James has even hand painted a teapot for us to auction. Because of them, we’ve been able to help many more sick and injured pets who rely on us for help – just like Bob did when times were tough.

A Street Cat Named Bob is in cinemas from 4 November.

— Page last updated 03/11/2016