If you consider your cat, dog or any other four-legged inhabitant of your home to be a member of the family, you will relate to James Bowen and his cat, Bob.
We all know that humans rescue cats. Many of you (as well as I) have done this, and many of you do it with regularity. We also have heard or read of animals rescuing their human. And sometimes it is hard to discern who actually saved whom. That is definitely the case in the internationally-acclaimed memoir, A Street Cat Named Bob, by James Bowen.
In 2005, James Bowen, a street musician in London, discovers a beat-up, ginger, tom-cat hanging out in the building where he lives. After determining that the cat does not have a home in either the building or neighborhood, he befriends and names the cat, Bob. It’s obvious from his dingy, unkept fur as well as some recent wounds that Bob’s been living on the streets. Bowen nurses Bob back to health, gets him vet care, neutered and even micro-chipped.
This is the story of James Bowen’s trials and tribulations as a former heroin-addicted, “invisible” non-person living rough on the streets and then in social housing. So, if anyone can relate to Bob and what he’s been through, it is James.
For Bob, Bowen gives up playing music on the street for whatever money passersby leave him (which dramatically increases when Bob joins the “act”). He becomes a vendor of a weekly newspaper (also with Bob), reunites with his estranged mother, finally weans off methadone and the drug that takes it’s place and generally turns his life around.
It is also the story of Bob’s life as an anonymous, forgotten street cat, to a beloved companion to James, local celebrity and eventual You-Tube sensation.
As the story progresses, James and Bob learn to trust each other as well as to take on the responsibility of caring for each other. It is the responsibility Bowen feels for Bob’s care and well-being that leads him to take responsibility for himself and his past actions and decide to straighten out his life. Again, this begs the question: Did James save Bob or did Bob rescue James?
This memoir of the need and love between cat and man has its heartwarming as well as its heart-wrenching moments. I found myself close to tears on the two occasions when, through no-fault of his own (though he feels the same guilt any of us would), James loses Bob.
James summed up his relationship with Bob best himself when he wrote about a conversation he had with a woman wanting to buy Bob in order to get him off the streets:
“As far as I am concerned Bob is my child, he’s my baby, and for you to ask me whether I’d sell him is exactly the same as me asking you how much you want for your youngest child.”
If you read this blog, you undoubtedly would have the same reaction as James if someone wanted to buy one of your beloved, furry, family members. This memoir is a must read for you as well as anyone who has ever had such a relationship with or is merely fond of animals.
You can see videos of James and Bob on YouTube, follow them on Twitter at @StreetCatBob, on Facebook at StreetCatBob and on the blog, streetcatbob.blogspot.com.
A Street Cat Named Bob is available on Amazon, including a Kindle version, and at Barnes and Noble, including a Nook version.
Disclaimer: I thank Elizabeth Coxe Hubbard at Sullivan and Partners for the opportunity to review, A Street Cat Named Bob. I was not compensated (other than receiving a free copy of this book) for this review and the opinions expressed are mine exclusively.
GIVEAWAY: Two USA residents have the opportunity to receive a free copy of A Street Cat Named Bob. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post and preface it with the word BOB. I will accept comments through Monday midnight (EDT), August 12. The following day, winners will be selected using Random.org. If you don’t have a blog, please leave your e-mail address as well.