by Janet Blue on August 9, 2013


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.

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Amicia Rai August 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

Oh that’s a lovely review! 🙂

The book is currently on my To-Read list, so I will hopefully be starting it soon. xD
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Lizy August 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

This book would be a perfect gift for my husband, he is been rescuing cats since he was able to walk and sneak them into his home and he still does! A Street Cat Named Bob tells a story we all can relate to at any point of our lives when you give up what you think is important for the others and on the process re-discovering what is really worth in our lives! I would love to be part of the giveway! Thanks.
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Catherine August 12, 2013 at 10:26 am

Oh gosh ~ now I totally have to look for this book. Fantastic review – thanks!
xo Catherine
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Nerissa's Life August 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

That’s a GREAT review! Bob’s story is one for the ages, for sure. Don’t enter me in the draw though ’cause you know… I’m a Canadian kitty.

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Athena August 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

I love Bob! That is such a beautiful book.
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Marg August 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

Bob, we would love to win a copy of that book. We did see them on the Today program. What a great cat that Bob is, for sure. Take care.
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sassmuffins August 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Interesting story! I watched one of the YouTube videos. Seeing Bob on the streets of London…and I really mean on the streets right next to the cars…was a little scary, even knowing he had a leash on.
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Scylla, August 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm

This sounds like a pawesome book. I am looking forward to getting to know all of you better.

You can visit me at Alasandra, The Cats & Dogs when I am not hanging out with The Ladies of Autumn.
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Spitty the Kitty August 10, 2013 at 12:59 am

We hope James and Bob are doing excellently well! The Human gets all blubbery and disgusting and upset when she reads books like that though, so we will let someone else be the lucky winner!
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Scott August 10, 2013 at 12:49 am

Thanks for the review, book looks amazing and would love to read it. Thanks for chance to win.
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Colehaus Cats August 9, 2013 at 11:13 pm

We follow James and Bob on Facebook and knew a little of his story but we haven’t purchased his book. We’d love our Mom and Dad to win a copy so they can read it to us!
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meowmeowmans August 9, 2013 at 10:44 pm

BOB! Wow, that book sounds *amazing*, and we would love to read it. Thank you for your review, and for the chance to win the book!
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Cathy Keisha August 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Bob! I’d love to read this book. I follow Bob on FB and Twitter and have seen his videos.

I got the package! Thank you sooooo much! TW said the toys smelled really nippy and fresh. I sniffed them and walked away. Next time Pop walked in, I had knocked one of the toys off the bed which means I played with it. Many thanks. I guess tomorrow she’ll set up the “undercover mouse” thingy.

BTW, my furrend Boris Kitty has an online shop where he sells “who saved who” merchandise cos his human says he saved her after she saved him.
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The Island Cats August 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm

BOB! That sounds like a great book that the mom should read…because we can’t. 😉
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Jessica August 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Your story is very inspirational. It warms my heart to read about people who have helped save an animals life who have in turn been saved by that animal. I love my own cats to pieces. If they would just sit on my shoulder all day, they’d probably be the best cats in the world (minus Bob). 🙂

Jane and or cats August 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

People under estimate the power of love..cats give so much love and ask for little in return.
I’m sure I’d be moved to sobs reading this. Must find a copy.
Jane x
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Abby August 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Wow what a great story. We read some newspaper articles about Bob and James and we think it’s not a coincidence that Bob found James. Amazing review.
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Timmy Tomcat August 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Golly Gee Whiskers we love to hear about great stories.
Dad has told us about this fellow and we may be interested in James too. Kidding. We love when there is such great communication between a fur and a person who sees and feels more than the average.
Thanks much for the little push to finish our books and make room for the next
Your pal
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Brian August 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

That sounds terrific and we would love to win too!
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Sparkle August 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I REALLY want to win this book! I need to review it!
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Sam and Pam August 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

BOB……..what a cat and what a great review! I had a feeling that the book would be VERY special and it sounds like it is……From what I’d already read about their relationship it was absolutely magic and most special. The ultimate win/win for them in fact. We’d love to win a copy! I promise to read every word to Sam if I win.
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Caren Gittleman August 9, 2013 at 11:30 am

BOB:Great review! Of the 50 something books that I have reviewed for Cat Chat I cannot believe that this one hasn’t come my way! Would love the opportunity to be entered to win!
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McGuffy Ann Morris August 9, 2013 at 9:23 am

Excellent. I am dying to read this, and have been since it came out. My 1st Maine Coon was named Bob…and he saved me.
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Kitties Blue August 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

Did you want to be included in the giveaway for the book?
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McGuffy Ann Morris August 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Yes, please include me in your book giveaway! Thanks for the chance!
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CATachresis August 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

I have just finished the book and LOVED it! The only niggle I have with James Bowen is that on YouTube clips he is seen smoking with Bob on his shoulder!!

Great review, Janet 🙂
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Kitties Blue August 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

I saw that too and didn’t like it.
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MyThreeMoggies August 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

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janetblue August 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

That was such a great video. Thanks for sharing it. I hope everyone who reads this review will check it out. I viewed about 100 still photographs of James and Bob on-line last night. I love the idea of the sketch becoming a print or t-shirt as suggested by comments for the video. I know I would purchase either or both. I love how Bob’s fans have knit these scarves for him. If you knit or crochet, maybe you could make one to take with you when you meet Bob.
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MyThreeMoggies August 9, 2013 at 8:46 am

Brilliant story I am on a mission to pop to Camden and meet Bob in the coming months 🙂
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janetblue August 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

Please, please post about it (with photos) if you get this opportunity.
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Beverly August 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

What a great review, Janet! This sounds like a sweet book that is also profound. I’ll have to look for it. I love human/animal stories.
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