About a month ago a friend lent me a really heartwarming book. I blew through it in a weekend. I’ve never done a book review for the Pets blog before, but this seems appropriate. The book is called “A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets,” by James Bowen. Don’t worry: this isn’t a real tear-jerker of a book. It’s a sweet, inspirational story of how a very special cat inspired a lost man to take control of his own life.
James Bowen was a recovering drug addict in London. He’d just come off spending a few years sleeping rough out on the streets. Now he was in a government-sponsored rehabilitation program, and living in a small apartment set aside for those in his situation. He busked in Covent Garden for a living. One day he was coming home and he encountered a ginger tomcat in the hallway of his apartment building.
Bowen fed the cat, but figuring it belonged to someone else, he didn’t do anything else about it. He could see the cat was injured, but Bowen knew he could barely take care of himself. He didn’t think he could take responsibility for another living being.
Eventually, the cat won out. Bowen brought him into his home and named him Bob. That’s when Bob’s unique nature really began to stand out. At first, Bowen just intended to hold onto Bob until he was better. He figured a street tomcat wouldn’t be happy cooped up in a small apartment all day. Bowen got him treatment from a local low-cost clinic, and was only going to keep him until Bob’s prescriptions ran their course.
But Bob wasn’t having any of that. When released, he followed Bowen instead of heading off on his own. One day Bob managed to follow Bowen all the way across town. After a few days, Bowen finally gave in, and began taking Bob busking with him. That’s when the really special happened: Bob would happily sit in Bowen’s guitar case for hours, and the unique sight of a cat hanging out with a busker attracted more attention than Bowen had ever gotten before. He’d make in a day what he used to make in a week.
Bowen and Bob’s special friendship soon turned into familial feeling. Bob gave Bowen what he really needed: another living creature for which he had to take responsibility. Bowne didn’t feel alone anymore, and Bob inspired him to take the final steps to get completely clean (up until that point, Bowen was still on the medications used to wean people off heroin, but with Bob, Bowen found the courage to go entirely clean).
Bob is still living with Bowen to this day. The two even occasionally go out busking so they can meet their fans. Bob accompanies Bowen on talk shows, and to book signings. He has a Twitter and a YouTube account, if anyone wants to see footage of the heartwarming duo.
*(The above image by Annie Mole is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)