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Thread: Homeless Cat and Homeless Man Hit the Big Time

  1. #1
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Default Homeless Cat and Homeless Man Hit the Big Time

    Homeless Cat and Homeless Man Hit the Big Time


    Bob the cat and his caretaker, James Bowen. Photo by Annie Mole

    When James Bowen found an injured cat curled up in what passed for his living space, he had no idea that a simple act of kindness would change his life.
    Bowen, a musician who had fallen on hard times, was making the best he could of his life on the streets, working as a vendor for The Big Issue, a weekly magazine published as a means for homeless people to earn money and work their way to a more secure future.
    When Bowen found the cat, he could see that he was suffering from some pretty serious injuries. He was limping badly and a large abscess was leaking pus.
    I’m sure there are plenty of people that would have simply ignored a wounded and sick cat on the streets. But not Bowen. As a homeless person, he probably knew all too well what it’s like to be overlooked as just some more garbage in the alley. No matter how desperate his circumstances were, Bowen couldn’t let the cat suffer without at least trying to do something to help, so off they went to the nearest branch of the RSPCA. Vets there drained the abscess, fixed him up, and sent him “home” with Bowen.
    The two shared Bowen’s meager accommodations as he nursed the cat — whom he had named Bob — back to health with the antibiotics the RSPCA had provided, and sent him on his way. Bowen figured he’d never see Bob again.
    But then Bowen got a happy surprise. Apparently Bob had become quite attached to his new caretaker. He began following Bowen everywhere he went, including his vendor station near the Angel Tube station in the Islington borough of London.
    Bob quickly became a fixture. Customers began stopping to visit with the cat, and because Bowen was earning money by selling The Big Issue, he has been able to keep Bob well fed. Bob even rides on Bowen’s shoulders when he’s too tired to walk anymore.
    Last week Annie Mole, author of the Going Underground blog, heard a rumor that Bowen had gotten a book deal for a memoir about his life with Bob. When she asked Bowen, she found out that it was, in fact, the truth.
    A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets of London, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in March 2012. The book chronicles the adventures — and the healing journey — man and cat shared through their companionship. According to the publisher’s blurb, the memoir “is a moving and uplifting story that will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.”
    Bob and Bowen are pretty entertaining, as you can see by the video below. So who knows? Maybe there’s even a movie in Bob’s future.
    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjjCmKpH6Yw&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]


    more pics of Bob Bob the Big Issue Cat - a set on Flickr

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

  2. #2
    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    What a nice guy and it is obvious he loves that cat. Perfect pair.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member heart_leigh's Avatar
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    What a sweet story. I'm glad they found each other.
    Rock the fuck on!

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    Hit By Ban Bus! rockchick's Avatar
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    I already want the book

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    Elite Member dowcat's Avatar
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    I love yellow cats. Two of my nine cats are yellow. So beautiful.

    "Tão estranho carregar uma vida inteira no corpo, e ninguém suspeitar dos traumas, das quedas, dos medos, dos choros."
    Caio Fernando Abreu

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    .. how have they hit the big time, exactly?
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  7. #7
    Elite Member Pinkii's Avatar
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    omg I used to see this guy everyday when I used to pass through Angel Station, didn't see the cat though but this is a very sweet story!

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    Elite Member Love love's Avatar
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    awww kitties are the best

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    Elite Member teforde23's Avatar
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    I love kitties.

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    Elite Member Kat Scorp's Avatar
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    I love men who are kind to animals.
    dexter7 likes this.
    Tiene razon, y gracias por su opinion. Now go fuck yourself.

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    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    ^ Me too. I thought I was a soft touch for critters before I met mine. Between the two of us, it's a struggle keeping our menagerie at a manageable level.

    Sweet story, and I bet that cat definitely earns his keep, I'm sure lots of animal lovers buy a magazine they don't even want just because of him.
    These people don't give a fuck about YOU or us. It's a message board, for Christ's sake. ~ mrs.v ~
    ~"Fuck off! Aim higher! Get a life! Get away from me!" ~the lovely and talented Miss Julia Roberts~



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    Elite Member o0Amber0o's Avatar
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    Such a sweet story, kitties are just as loyal, if not more so than dogs. I know my bear would follow me around the world if he had to!
    All you can do at life is play along and hope that sometimes you get it right.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Bob the busking cat

    He’s a ginger tom who has given his formerly homeless ex-junkie owner a reason to get up in the morning — and a book deal. Richard Godwin pays court




    Bob shows off their book

    Richard Godwin

    15 March 2012

    If you've never noticed James Bowen playing Nirvana songs around Covent Garden, or selling the Big Issue in Angel, or minding his own business on the 73, then you’ve probably noticed his pet. It’s a ginger tomcat. On a lead. (Or sometimes James’s shoulders.) His name is Bob — and he has entranced London like no feline since the days of Dick Whittington.

    The first thing you notice about Bob is he’s not like other cats. Dogs do not faze him; police sirens do not startle him; he’s cool with the Tube (in fact, he has his own Travelcard). “It makes you wonder what he did before I found him,” says Bowen, who first met Bob five years ago, when he turned up as a stray on the threshold of his flat in Tottenham. When Bowen tried to leave the house, Bob followed him onto a bus. “I thought, ‘My goodness, what is going on here? Somebody’s decided they like me.’ Isn’t that right, Bob?”

    Bob says nothing, just twitches his whiskers.

    “He knows we’re talking about him,” says Bowen.

    The second thing you notice about Bob is that he’s irresistible. Curled up on a chair outside a Covent Garden café he attracts a steady stream of admirers. Paul McCartney once stroked him, apparently.

    Today, a young Swedish couple say, ‘How you doing, Bob!’ while an Australian girl wants to take a picture of his tiny scarf. “People bring him presents from all over — and he doesn’t mind wearing them,” says Bowen. “That’s the thing. He really thinks he’s a person. When I put his scarf on, he gets all proud, he’s like ‘Great! We’re going out!’ He’s one of the boys for sure. Aren’t you, matey?”

    Bob keeps his counsel.

    “He can also tell me off when he’s in a bad mood,” adds Bowen, showing me his hands, which are covered in little scratches. Together with his blackened teeth and nails — which you only notice close up — and his more or less constant rollie-smoking, they give him the look of damaged goods. Bowen, who is 33 today, divides his life into two distinct phases: before Bob and after Bob. He spent much of the pre-Bob phase as a heroin addict and rough sleeper. He has a pleasant, open face, but retains the edgy, pleading manner of someone who is used to being ignored. Black tights are visible through the holes in his jeans; evidently, he is well adapted to the cold London streets.

    He hopes that his new book, A Street Cat Named Bob, which he wrote in collaboration with the writer Garry Jenkins in an Islington café, will challenge some misconceptions. He got the book deal through a literary agent, Mary Pachnos, who used to pass him each day outside Angel station and was curious enough to ask about his life story. “It’s a pretty damn good story, isn’t it?” he says. “And it’s the truth, every word of it. Yeah, it’s a pretty interesting life Bob and I have led.”

    Bowen was born in England but after his parents divorced he moved with his mother and stepfather to Australia (he retains the accent). He loathed his stepfather and, with the family moving regularly, he found it hard to settle. He was often bullied at school, becoming a “tearaway kid” with a glue habit — and was diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia and manic depression.

    In 1997, he escaped Australia for England, where he moved in with his half-sister in south London, but her husband did not take kindly to having a volatile teenager hanging round in black clothing and he was eventually asked to leave. He spent the next few years in a spiral down, from friends’ floors, to squats and finally to the streets, where he spent the best part of the next 10 years.

    “It became a bleak haze for a while, until I got my shit together. It was a long, long trek — I spent many years in hostels and in cold-weather shelters, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s, all that sort of stuff.” It wasn’t long before he started using heroin. “In the hostels, everybody was either a druggy or an alcoholic, so it was such an easy trap. Once you’re on that path it becomes a real Catch-22.”

    Bowen broke the cycle, he says, with the help of a strong support network, including his on-off partner Belle (herself a former heroin addict), as well as charities, including Connections at St Martin-in-the-Fields. He has developed a philosophy of self-responsibility. “People who go to these NA [Narcotics’ Anonymous] programmes 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,” he says. Still, it was touch-and-go until he moved out into the Tottenham flat, which he found through the Peabody Trust and Family Mosaic. The cat showed up on his doorstep a few months after he moved in. Bob (whom Bowen named after the psychopath in Twin Peaks) was injured — a nasty-looking wound on his leg was leaking pus — which meant Bowen had to take immediate action.

    “We’re two injured souls looking for someone we can trust — and we trust each other. I still have a hard time trusting people. But one thing about Bob is that he never lies to me. Even if he’s not hungry, he won’t pretend to be, like most other cats do, just to be greedy.”

    Bowen is not religious, but he does believe in karma. “I think I must have been doing something right for him to come along,” he says.
    As he describes in the book, Bob changed his life. “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.”

    Although the recession has made life far harder for street performers, Bowen discovered that when Bob accompanied him, he picked up a lot more money from busking. More than that, however, it is his pride in the animal that helped restore him. But he is at pains to point out — often pleading — that he has not exploited the animal. “There is nothing you can do to force a cat to do anything. You have to make that clear.”

    Bowen still lives in the flat in Tottenham — it is the longest he has ever spent in any one place — and it has been six years since he used heroin, though he still relies on “scrips” (prescription drugs) to deal with his mental health problems. Despite the turn-around, his relations with his family remain complex, while Belle’s family refuse to speak to him. Whatever pain remains, Bowen is as optimistic as he has ever been.

    “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,” he says. “And also, with the money that I’ll be making from it, it will be nice to make up my flat nicely. It’s not a hell of a lot of money, but it’s enough so 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.”

    He’s busking at the moment (his signature song is Hurts by Nine Inch Nails, in the Johnny Cash version) as it’s easy to fit around promoting the book. Eventually, he will return to his main source of revenue, which is selling the Big Issue. As for the future, he is thinking of registering Bob as a Care in the Community animal, so he can take him to old people’s homes and care centres. “Animals are great for calming the spirit when you’re stressed,” he explains. “He certainly helped me in that way, and I’d like to help other people in that way. Maybe I’d have to take some courses in community care or something like that.”

    The first thing he would do if he makes any money from the book, incidentally, is to buy Bob some pet insurance. “I can’t afford it at the moment, I’d love to be able to do that.”

    I hope he does — I shudder to think what he would do if anything happened to that cat. “He is what I wake up for every day now. It will be horrible when he leaves me, cos I know cats don’t live as long as human beings …” he drifts off. “But he’s definitely given me the right direction to live my life.”

    It’s like a love affair, I say.

    “You could say that,” he says, half-laughing, through gritted teeth.

    “Are you my lover, Bob? You little secret lover? What’s your answer to that?”

    Bob’s response is inscrutable.

    “He is special. You’ve got to make that clear — that he’s a special little man.”

    A Street Cat Named Bob, by James Bowen, is published today by Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99.


    Bob the busking cat - London Life - Life & Style - Evening Standard

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

  14. #14
    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Fabulous cat! He does look so proud in his scarf.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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