I love stories about people who change their lives for the better. I love those stories even more when the catalyst for that change is a cat (pun intended). I was pretty sure that I would love A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope 0n the Streets. I wasn’t prepared for just how much I loved it.

I had head the story of James Bowen, a down on his luck British street musician who was busking the streets of London with his orange cat Bob. Bowen and his cat caught the attention of Mary Pachnos, a literary agent who had represented the British edition of Marley and Me. One day, Pachnos asked Bowen whether he’d ever thought about writing a book about Bob. A little over a month after its publication, the book has landed on British bestseller lists, and already, translation rights for several different countries have been sold. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if Hollywood snapped this story up.

When James first found Bob on the doorstep of his apartment building, he couldn’t have known how much this orange (or ginger, as the British call this coloring) cat would change his life. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London, and had just moved into subsidized housing as part of a drug recovery program after being homeless. The last thing he needed was a pet. But he just couldn’t turn his back on the injured cat, so he took him in and nursed him back to health. He never intended to keep him. Once Bob had recovered, James sent him on his way.

But Bob had other plans. He kept coming back to the apartment building, and followed James everywhere. Soon the two became inseparable, and Bob began accompanying James on his daily trip to work into London via bus and Tube, the London underground metro system. The two became a fixture and familiar sight to many Londoners. People were charmed by Bob, and James started earning more money for his performances than he ever had before. Eventually, James got a job selling Big Issue, a newspaper published on behalf of and sold by homeless people to help them get a step up in life. Bob always tagged along.

This uplifting story touched my heart. The bond between James and Bob is so incredible, it brought tears to my eyes at times. As much as I love cat books, it’s rare that I come across one that I just can’t put down. I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this one.

James is brutally honest about his past and his struggle to recover from his drug addiction, and he’s equally honest about how much he came to love Bob. Following the journey of these two soulmates was pure joy. I only wished that I lived in London, so I could actually meet Bob. Oh, and James, too.

If you’re not convinced yet that you have to read this book, take a look at the book trailer:


The book will be published in the US by St. Martin’s Press in the spring of 2013. It is currently available on Amazon on Kindle.

James Bowen is a street musician in London, England. He found Bob in the spring of 2007, and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

*** Coming soon on The Conscious Cat: an interview with James Bowen! *** 

This book was sent to me by the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

19 Comments on Book review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

  1. I am seeing at least 3 different Titles to do with Bob? are they all different books? and if not which one came first? the first two sound almost like the same book?

    A Street Cat Named Bob (how one man and his cat found hope on the street)

    A Street Cat Named Bob – How He Saved My Life

    The World According to Bob -the further adventure of one man and his street wise cat

    • Elaine, the first two are the same book, the only thing that’s different are the subtitles. The first one is the UK edition, the second the US edition. The third title is the sequel, which is currently only available in the UK.

  2. I bought this book at Edinburgh airport on my back back to France. I read it without stopping (well, except for the airport transfer). Bob looks so much like someone I know.. almost a clone. Besides the cat.. The book is nice and hope is always good.

  3. I have just stumbled across this book and it very mush mirrors my own experience. I adopted Dexter (my cat), during being in sheltered housing project and also recovering from an addiction/mental health problems. James Bowen is absolutely correct in saying that his cat saved his life, as this is the same way I feel about Dex’. During the darkest times, I would only have to look at him and remember the promise I’d made him. This would clear any temptation and remind me of what is really important. He also taught me a lot of responsibility and to be more considerate of others. Pets have amazing healing properties, both mentally and spiritually. I’m really proud of James Bowen and wish hin and Bob all of the luck and love in the world.

    • I’m so glad Dex came into your life at such a difficult time, Ashley. I’ve always believed that animals come into our lives to help and heal us, and stories like yours and James Bowen’s are such incredible testaments to these special cats.

  4. My friends, knowing I too rescue kittens from the streets of Paphos brought me Jame’s book. An eye opener to the torments of addiction, to humanity, to some so called fellow human beings, to compassion and also to the power of friendship; especially the unconditional devotion of animals who know so much and teach us so much. sincere thanks for Book Review too for accomodating an old cat lover like me in this space.

  5. This is definitely a must read for me. I’ve come across a lot of books on your site that have been added to my to be read pile. Thanks for sharing the word on these wonderful fiction and non-fiction stories involving cats.

  6. Ingrid,
    I look forward to getting my hands on this book, and your interview with James. Thank you for spreading the word!

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