Tails of survival

Stray cat inspires recovering addict to change his life

Aug. 6, 2013 at 8:39 AM ET

Video: Struggling London street musician James Bowen was recovering from a drug addiction when he befriended a stray cat who helped him turn his life around. Now he and his pet have their own book series and a potential movie deal in the works.

James Bowen was a desperate drug addict barely surviving by "busking" — playing his guitar on the streets of London. He remembers that time of his life as being in ''a difficult place, in a precarious position.''


Everything changed the day James spotted an injured stray cat sheltering in a stairwell. Despite the fact that he was struggling to take care of himself, he couldn’t abandon the wounded and helpless animal. James took the cat to a vet and named him Bob. While helping his new friend to recover, James found that he was healing too, finally finding a way out from his drug dependency. 



As soon as Bob was well again he followed James everywhere, even hopping onto a London bus with him. James remembers it well: ''The day he followed me on the bus I thought hello, this isn't right! Then he started going to work with me, and just all of a sudden I wasn't invisible to the crowds when busking.''

NBC News
Kristy Breetzke / NBC News
James Bowen performs next to Bob the cat.



The unlikely duo became inseparable and a huge hit with the public. With trusty Bob at his side, James admits, ''I have to be honest, my earnings did increase a lot!'' Meanwhile, Bob’s fan base grew daily, charmed by his devotion to James, his dapper array of patterned scarves and neckerchiefs and his party trick — "high-fiving" James.

The pair’s luck continued to grow; it didn't take long for a literary agent to discover the eccentric twosome and encourage James to pen the tale of their life stories and enduring friendship. Writing has been beneficial for James' recovery. 

"It's so good to get it down on paper, I find it almost therapeutic to get it out, to get the experiences out so that I didn't have to think about them so much anymore,'' he says.

Thomas Dunne Books
Thomas Dunne Books
Bob the cat's book arrived in the U.S. last Tuesday and is already selling well.

The first book, ‘’A Street Cat Named Bob,’’ was a huge success, selling more than a million copies worldwide. A version of that book was released in the U.S. for the first time on July 30. The public's enthusiastic reception of their story left James overwhelmed.

''When I wrote the first book, I never in a million years dreamt I'd be writing a second book.'' 

While there is talk of a movie deal, James and Bob are content with the positive turn their lives have taken. Bob closes his eyes as James scratches behind his ears and says, ''I can never repay what he's done for me, he's paid back my kindness a million billion fold.'' 


TOP