Homeless James met Bob the ginger cat who changed his life

This story begins with an unhappy boy who did not find a home, even when he still technically had a family and a place to live. On March 15, 1979, a boy named James Bowen was born in Surrey, England. But the family broke up, and James’ mother took him to Australia. There a succession of schools awaited him. The boy had no time to make friends, he was often bullied by his classmates, and in high school, James dropped out of school altogether.

At 18, Bowen returned to England, where he was going to live with his older half-sister-in-law and her husband. But the relationship did not work out, and James began to spend more and more nights on the street. Soon he finally left home and made a living playing guitar in parks and on the streets, sleeping under the open sky or in night shelters. Depression and mental illness led him to start taking heroin.

«People don’t want to listen. All they see is a person who they think wants a free ride at their expense. They don’t understand that I’m working, not begging. I’m trying to make a living. Just because I don’t wear a suit and tie, don’t carry a briefcase and don’t sit at a computer, doesn’t mean I’m a bum.» says James Bowen.

James was trying to get out of the drug loop and began participating in a methadone program in the spring of 2007. He played on the streets of Covent Garden and lived in a room provided to him by the municipality.

One evening he came home and found a red cat in the hallway. James thought it was one of the tenants’ pets, so he simply closed the door, leaving the animal outside. But the cat came back the next day and the day after. Bowen examined the fluffy cat and found no collar or tag, but saw that the unfortunate cat had injured his paw and needed treatment. So James decided to help the cat himself, whom he named Bob — after the character who personified evil in the mystery TV series Twin Peaks.

«Cats are notoriously picky and selective. They decide for themselves whom to give their love to. If a cat doesn’t like its owner, it will leave and find another.»

After encountering a creature even more miserable than himself, James found inner strength. He cured the cat’s paw and helped him get rid of the fleas that were infesting it. Unlike his freedom-loving brethren, Bob did not think of walking on his own, but willingly accompanied James on his trips to Covent Garden, proudly and calmly perched on the musician’s shoulder during performances.

Bowen’s concerts began to attract a larger audience. They willingly filmed videos and posted them on YouTube, and James (and Bob!) had fans who came to Covent Garden specifically for their performances. After Bowen was interviewed for a local newspaper, he decided to write a book about his fateful meeting with Bob and met his future literary agent, Mary Panchos.

«It was an eerily cold winter day,» Panchos recalls. — «This guy was shivering in the cold, and then I looked down and saw the cat sitting rankly on a stack of magazines, and I said to myself, ‘That can’t be. I’ve never seen a cat do that. Dogs, yes, but not cats.»

Bob really is an amazing cat. He opens doors and even uses the toilet. Some have tried to compare him to Garfield, the famous comic book cat, but James disagrees that they are similar: his friend is not so cynical and lazy. Bob is more like a feline Buddha, just as calm and wise.

The book received two sequels: The World According to Bob and A Gift from Bob. James has also written several adaptations for children: Bob: No Ordinary Cat and My Name Is Bob.

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