The Street Cat Named Bob Became the Reason for a Recovering Heroin Addict to Get Up in the Morning

on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. Posted in Voices in Recovery, Breaking News

Recovering Heroin Addict

James Bowen, a recovering addict in London, is often seen in the company of his companion that he credits with his recovery. According to, James's ginger-colored tomcat has given him the reason to get clean. Today, the tomcat has also helped secure a book deal for both the recovering heroin addict and his faithful companion.

James Bowen, and his cat Bob, are familiar faces around London, as they are spotted around Covent Garden, while James sings Nirvana with Bob perched on his shoulder, and other various spots around town. Bob is not like other cats, as he faithfully follows his owner around the city. Dogs do not faze him, police sirens do not startle him, and he rides the Tube.

When James first met Bob five years ago, the cat appeared on the threshold of his flat. When he tried to leave the house after spending time nursing the cat back to health, Bob followed him onto a bus. Today, he credits that cat with saving his life, giving him a reason to get up in the morning.

James divides his life into two phases; before Bob and after Bob. He spent much of his life before Bob as a heroin addict and a rough sleeper. The cat showed up on his doorstep a few months after he moved in. Bob had a nasty wound on his leg that was leaking pus, and James immediately stepped into to help the animal. James said, "We're two injured should looking for someone we can trust-and we trust each other."

James recollects, "I believe it came down to this little man. He came and asked me for help, and he needed me more than I needed to abuse my own body." Today, the pair are street performers in London. James sings and plays guitar, while Bob accompanies him, sometimes perched on the guitar. He said his pride in Bob has helped to restore himself, and his love for his companion has gotten him through.

James hopes that his new book, "A Street cat Named Bob," will challenge some misconceptions about addiction and homelessness. He wrote the book in collaboration with writer Gary Jenkins, inside a local cafe. James got the book deal through a literary agent, Mary Pachnos, who used to pass the duo each day outside Angel station. One day, she was curious enough to ask James about his life story.

James Bowen lived a life that was saturated for drugs and alcohol for many years. With the help of a strong support network, he was finally able to break the cycle of addiction. He began getting clean, and has developed his own self-reliant philosophy. He said, "People who go to these NA programs and say 'I am powerless, God has made me like this'- I don't believe that. I believe everybody is in control of their own destiny." After he got clean, he moved into a flat, and several months later Bob showed up.

James still lives in that flat, and he claims it is the longest he has ever spent in one place. It has been six years since he has used heroin, although he still relies on medication to deal with his mental health problems. Despite his turnaround, James still has a strained relationship with his family and financial struggles of a street performer. But, he remains optimistic.

James said, "It's nice to know people will be able to sit down and read the story in black and white instead of just assuming things in their mind. And also, with the money I will be making from it, it will be nice to make my flat up nicely. It's not a hell of a lot of money, but it's enough that I won't have to work seven days a week, I can work five days a week. That's the plan. To have, you know, a normal lifestyle."

James is also considering of registering Bob as a Care in the Community animal, so he can take him to old people's homes and care centers. He explains, "Animals are great for calming the sprit when you're stressed. He certainly helped me in that way, and I'd like to help other people in that way."

His first plans for his proceeds for the book are to buy Bob some pet insurance. James said, "He is what I wake up to every day now. It will be horrible when he leaves me, cos I know cats don't live as long as human beings. But, he has definitely given me the right direction in my life."

"A Street Cat Named Bob" is published by Hodder&Stoughton.

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