Everyone believes that their pet is the best in the world. And each of them is absolutely right. If only our furry friends could stay with us for as long as possible! Recently, we learned that there are books written and movies shot about an unusual cat. Bob saved the life of his master, James Bowen, and helped him get out of poverty.
This touching friendship of man and cat convinced us that the love of our little friends helps us get out of an abyss.
This story begins with an unfortunate boy who could not find a home, even when formally he still had a family and housing. March 15, 1979, in the English county of Surrey, was born a baby named James Bowen. But the family broke up, and James’s mother took him to Australia. A series of schools awaited him there. The boy did not have time to make friends, he was often bullied by classmates, and in high school, James completely dropped out of school.
At 17, Bowen returned to England, where he was going to live with his older sister (from his father’s previous marriage) and her husband. But their relationship did not work out, and James increasingly began to spend the night on the street. Soon he finally left home and made a living by playing the guitar in parks and on the streets, sleeping in the open air, or shelters. Depression and mental illness led him to take illegal substances.
James tried to get out of the addiction loop and in the spring of 2007 began participating in a rehabilitation program. He played the guitar on the streets of Covent Garden and lived in an apartment in the north of London provided by the municipality.
One evening he returned home and found a red cat in the lobby. James decided that this was the pet of one of the tenants, so he simply closed the door, leaving the animal outside. But the cat came the next day and every other day. Bowen examined him and found neither a collar nor a token, but he saw that the cat injured his paw and needed treatment. And then James decided to help the cat himself, whom he named Bob — by the name of the character who personified evil in the mystical series “Twin Peaks”.
Cats are known for their pickiness and selectivity. They decide who to bestow with their love. If the cat does not like its owner, it will leave and find another.
Faced with a creature that was in an even more miserable position than himself, James gained inner strength. He cured the cat’s paw and helped get rid of fleas. Unlike his freedom-loving counterparts, Bob did not think to walk on his own, but he willingly accompanied James on his trips to Covent Garden, proudly sitting on the musician’s shoulder. During the performances, the cat quietly sat next to each other or showed little tricks to the joy of passers-by.
The road to a better life
Bowen’s concerts began to attract a greater number of viewers, they eagerly shot video and posted it on YouTube, and James (and Bob!) had fans who came to Covent Garden specifically for their performances.
In addition to street performances, James was engaged in the sale of The Big Issue magazine in the Islington area, and thanks to a furry partner, the guy was not difficult to find regular customers. Over time, Bob became a real star and even appeared on the cover of this publication.
After being interviewed by Bowen for a local newspaper, literary agent Mary Panchos drew attention to him. “It was a terribly frosty winter day,” Panchos recalled. “This guy was trembling from the cold, and then I looked down and saw a cat, gracefully sitting on a stack of magazines, and said to myself: ‘This cannot be. I have never seen a cat do this. Dogs — yes, but not a cat'”.
Mary convinced James that his story with Bob deserves a separate book. She introduced the young man to the writer Harry Jenkins, who helped James write his first book. At first, the musician himself did not believe in the success of this venture, but his touching and direct history conquered the world. The book “A Street Cat Named Bob” in the UK alone were sold in quantities of over 1 million copies. And it was translated into dozens of languages of the world — from Russian to Japanese.
Bob was really an amazing cat. He opened the doors for himself and even learned to use the toilet himself. Some tried to compare him with Garfield – the famous cat from the comics, but James does not agree that they are alike: his friend is not so cynical and lazy. Bob was more like a cat Buddha; he was just as calm and wise.
The story received two sequels: “The World According to Bob” and “A Gift from the Bob”. James also wrote several adaptations for children. And in 2018, “The Little Cat of Bob: Life Lessons from a Street-Wise Cat” was published — the publication contains a story in which Bowen collected all the wisdom accumulated by him over the years of his life with Bob.
In 2016, the film “The Cat named Bob” was shot according to the first two books, where Luke Treadaway and Bob himself played the main roles. A year later, the film won the British National Film Award in the category “Best British Film”.
The great cat
Bob graciously greeted the guests at the premiere of the film in London. Even the Duchess of Cambridge wanted to pet the cat.
At first, James and Bob lived in the same apartment, but for the full cost of rent (previously it was paid by the municipal authorities), but subsequently Bowen managed to buy his house. Bob had a friend now — another red cat named Jinxi. James recorded songs, filmed cartoons about the adventures of Bob and his friends, and even worked on a game application. The proceeds Bowen generously donated to shelters for stray animals and projects for the rehabilitation of homeless people and the treatment of addictions.
The red-haired miracle named Bob lived a long and happy cat life next to James. Together, friends visited different countries of the world, including Japan, and everywhere they were met by grateful readers. Bob passed away on June 15, 2020, just a few days after another online meeting with fans. Until the last day, an extraordinary cat pleased thousands of people and helped them believe in the best. Almost the same way he once helped James.
“Bob saved my life. This is exactly so, and nothing else. He gave me much more than friendship. Next to him, I found the right direction and purpose in life, which I so lacked. The success we achieved together through our books and films was a real miracle. Bob met thousands of people, affected millions of lives. There was no other cat like him in the world. And never will be,” said James Bowen.