The world according to a street cat named Bob

The coolest pair of cats in London. (Luke MacGregor/Reuters)

First aired on The Current (04/09/13)

They say that the dog is man's best friend, but in the case of a homeless British man, it's a tabby cat that he credits with turning his life around. James Bowen first told the story of Bob, the street cat, in his 2012 book A Street Cat Named Bob. Now he's written a sequel titled The World According to Bob. In a recent interview on The Current, Bowen told host Anna Maria Tremonti that he owes his life to Bob.


 "Before Bob, it was hectic, it was chaotic," Bowen said. "I was on a methadone program because I used to be a heroin addict. Bob came along at just the right time to make me realize I needed to do something about my situation and get things together."

Bob didn't literally save Bowen's life. But the responsibility of caring for a pet and the companionship he offered gave Bowen a sense of purpose. "It was almost like caring for your child, I suppose," he said. "And that kind of changed everything about me. "

When Bowen found Bob, in 2007, the cat was injured and a stray. Their connection was instant. "We have this unspoken bond. There is just something about our two souls matched," Bowen said. Bob joined Bowen on the streets as he was busking and selling newspapers. 

Having Bob as a companion turned out to be a boon in a financial sense, too. "It was like having an invisibility cloak lifted off me," Bowen said. All of a sudden, people would stop to talk to him because they were intrigued by the cat. The amount he earned through busking increased dramatically. It wasn't long before the pair became an internet sensation, and when Bowen subsequently published A Street Cat Named Bob, in September 2012, it became a bestseller in Britain.

Bowen says he and Bob are "ambassadors" for the bond between an animal and a human being, and how that relationship can help homeless and marginalized people. His second book, The World According to Bob, is the next chapter in their story. As a bestselling author, Bowen no longer has to busk for change or count on Bob to attract the public. But the personable tabby is still a big part of his life.

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