In 2007, James Bowen was busking on the streets of London, trying to make daily money to live playing his guitar. He was a recovering addict, living in a bare apartment, when he came home one day to find a ginger tomcat in a stairwell. The cat was as ragged looking as Bowen himself, and James liked him, but assumed he belonged to someone in the building. And, as much as he liked the cat, even when he couldn't find his owner, Bowen was reluctant to adopt him. "The last thing I needed right now was the extra responsibility of a cat. I was a failed musician and recovering drug addict living a hand-to-mouth existence in sheltered accommodations. Taking responsibility for myself was hard enough."
But, Bowen finally broke down, and took the cat to the vet, named him Bob, and found himself unexpectedly with a companion. The cat and the man found each other to be soul mates, meant to be together through all the tough times of trying to make a living on the streets of London. And, Bob was right there on the streets with James. It was Bob's presence that unexpectedly brought attention to the pair, and brought in the daily money they needed to survive. After a little while, "Something began to sink in. It wasn't all about making money. I wasn't going to starve. And my life was much richer for having Bob in it. I was such a pleasure to have such great company, such a great companion. But somehow it felt like I'd been given a chance to get back on track."
It's a sobering book, a story of a lost man, an invisible part of society. It's sobering to see not only how much Bob changed Bowen's life, but how much he changed the attitudes of the people the pair encountered on the streets. With Bob on his shoulder, James Bowen was no longer invisible.
At the same time, A Street Cat Named Bob And How He Saved My Life is a triumphant story of two lost souls who found strength in each other. It's a moving story of hope, triumph, and the power of a relationship so strong that it forever changed two lives.
Bowen and Bob blog at www.streetcatbob.blogspot.com, and they're on Facebook under StreetCatBob.
A Street Cat Named Bob And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen. St. Martin's Press. 2012. ISBN 9781250029461 (hardcover), 279p.
FTC Full Disclosure - A friend gave me a gift copy of the book.