When homeless musician James Bowen met a homeless cat, which he named Bob, his life was changed forever.
One day, while in the subway, James saw a cat with a wound in his leg. It appeared like he just had a fight with another cat. Obviously, the poor creature needed help, so he took it to the vet and took care of it, until it was able to recover.
Since then, the cat followed James everywhere he went, making it impossible for him to say goodbye. As he played the guitar on the streets Bob would sit nearby. At first, it seemed like he was only watching, but James then noticed that the revenues have increased drastically.
It was then when James decided to write a book about their journey on the street. In the book, James said he didn’t think about how Bob would affect or change his life.
A Street Cat Named Bob, the title of James’s book, follows the adventures of the 33-year-old homeless musician and a cat. Since it was released, it has sold over 250,000 copies. In fact, because of its popularity, it has even been translated into 18 different languages.
So far, the book has earned James about £30,000, which may still increase now that a film is in the works. It was Mary Panchos, a the literary agent, who found out about the book and portrayed the role of the UK agent in the film Marley & Me.
Though James and his friend Bob are now enjoying fame and fortune, the musician still owes his success to his furry pal. He said, “I owe everything to Bob. We’ve been on quite a journey together”.
James recalled that their friendship started about five-and-a-half years ago on a cold Thursday evening. He found Bob starving and wounded on the staircase of his apartment in Tottenham, North London.
“He was hiding in my building – he had been attacked by another cat, or maybe a fox. He had a big wound on his side, the poor thing,” he narrated. He then continued his story saying, “I assumed he belonged to someone. I asked around, but there was no one”.
For three days, James took care of the poor cat. He even took him to the RSPCA for medication, which cost £28, even if he was only earning £25 per day. He remembered, “It was pretty much the last money I had, but I didn’t feel it was too much to help something in need. I’ve always loved cats”.
A few years before he met the cat, James lived the kind of life in which he was very dependent on methadone. When he was just three, his parents separated, causing him to move from Surrey to Australia with his mother. While in Australia, they moved between one city to another. At one stage, they moved back to the United Kingdom for six years. But later on, they returned to Australia.
“My mum was a product of the Eighties – she always spent more money than she could make. She’d start these businesses but she always ended up selling them, or they just collapsed,” said James.
“Before I’d even tuned up my guitar on that first day, the coins started dropping on the floor,” said James as he talked about his life with Bob. Since Bob came into his life, he took home a huge sum of cash, which is three times than the usual.
As days passed, passers-by started bringing toys, clothes, and tidbits of food. Someone gave him a purple scarf. Then everyone wanted to give him one. He must have more than 20 specially-knitted scarves, a couple of jumpers, ten blankets – mouse shaped-ones, cat-shaped ones. It’s amazing,” he said.
During their first Christmas together, a lady brought Bob a miniature stocking filled with goodies, and James bought a cheap tree to put it under. “On Christmas morning, Bob was sitting underneath it. He knew it was his,” he said.
Twice, James thought he had already lost Bob. The first one was when they at Piccadilly Circus. Bob ran off after being freaked out by a man in a fancy dress. The second time was when he fled because of a rottweiler in Islington. He explained, “I was terrified that I had lost him, and felt bad that I hadn’t taken better care of him”. Luckily, Bob came back after a couple of hours.
James and Bob are now becoming more popular than ever, with videos taken by supporters and shared on YouTube. Despite the fame, when James was approached by Mary, he was surprised.
“She said she had been walking past us for weeks and wanted to know if I was interested in telling my story. Soon, we had publishers on board and six months later we had a book. It came out on my birthday. The best present of my life!,” he said.
The hardbound edition stayed in the top ten best seller lists for six months. The paperback, on the other hand, is now the number one on the non-fiction category. Spin-offs and sequels are reportedly in the works.
Watch the video below as James Bowen narrates their story together:
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