RIP — ‘Bob’, a.k.a. A Streetcat Named Bob, passes away at 14. Light a #CandleforBob this Saturday.

Photo credit: Hodder & Stoughton Publishers

Full disclosure. I’m a cat person. Not that dogs aren’t great, it’s just that cats are, simply put, cooler than the law allows. So, it will come as no surprise that the recent news of the passing of a stray ginger tabby street cat named Bob is nothing short of gut-wrenching. You see, ‘Bob’ befriended James Bowen, a recovering heroin addict and, as the story played out over the course of the next 13 years, they essentially ‘saved’ each others lives.

While I never happened by Covent Garden at a time to see Bob in action while James sold The Big Issue, I did have the great good fortune of meeting Bob at a Waterstones book signing during the release of “A Street Cat Named Bob”. Even in that brief moment, you could tell there was a unique wisdom about Bob that he knew more than all of us in the store and he was there to help get us all through the day. Boy, do we all need Bob more than ever today!

Bob was like no other cat I had ever seen (except our own MiniBoots, of course). So, whether you’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with Bob, read the story or seen the movie, light a candle for Bob on Saturday after sunset where ever your are. #CandleforBob

The story of a Street Cat Named Bob

In 2007, James Bowen was living in a supported housing program in Tottenham, London. One evening he returned home to find a ginger cat in the hallway of his building. It was that night when Bob and James unknowingly were to become inseparable companions on a journey that neither of them could have predicted. The recovering heroin addict/Covent Garden busker soon learned that Bob gave him a new found purpose to finally make something of his life. As Bowen freely admits today, “He is what I wake up for every day now… he’s definitely given me the right direction to live my life.

It took Bob running off and becoming separated from James on the streets of London for Bowen to realize just what Bob meant to him and how important he would become in helping him take that final step in cleaning his life up. By this point in the book, I might just have opened the second box of kleenex.

Bob and Bowen became fixtures in Covent Garden as Bowen sold The Big Issue, a newspaper written by professional journalists and sold by homeless individuals as a way to get off the streets and begin to make a living. Soon, the public began uploading videos of Bowen and Bob to YouTube and tourists would visit Covent Garden to see them.

Bob walks the red carpet for London premiere of A Street Cat Named Bob

Based on the first book in the trilogy of ‘Bob’ books, A Street Cat Named Bob, the movie by the same name stars Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans, Unbroken, Vicious), Ruta Gedmintas (The Tudors, The Guilty), Anthony Head, Joanne Froggatt (Life on Mars, Downton Abbey, The Dark Angel) and, of course, Bob plays himself in the film. After all, if that’s what it takes for the opportunity to meet the Duchess of Cambridge, well, you do what you have to do.

Besides the books A Street Cat Named BobThe World According to Bob and A Gift from Bob, written with author Garry Jenkins, Bowen now dedicates his time to help numerous charities that involve homelessness, literacy, and animal welfare. Even it you aren’t a cat person, this is one movie that even non-cat people should make an effort to see.

Since the movie, Bob and James’ life have been a far cry from that fateful night in Tottenham. So much so, the first Bobfest was created several years ago in May. Attendees came from as far away as Brazil and Japan with the main focus of raising money for Blue Cross, the animal charity where James first took Bob.

RIP, Bob. The world definitely needs you now. Condolences, James.


In: Odds & Sods