Book Review: ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’

Book Information

Book Title: A Street Cat Named Bob.

Authors: James Bowen and Garry Jenkins.

Publishing Details: First published in 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton. Newest version published in 2016 by Hodder Paperbacks.

Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography.

It’s a Film Too!

The book has also been made into a film, due for release in the UK on 4th November 2016 and on 18th November 2016 in USA. Release dates may vary in other countries.

The film stars Luke Treadaway, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head and, most excitingly, Bob the Cat as himself! *Cat Lady huge contented sigh*

Let’s hope the film captures the essence of the book. The book to film struggle is real.

Why Should I Give up Some of My Life to Read This?

There’s no escaping the fact that this book will immediately appeal to all you kitty cat lovers out there. However, I believe that even the most sneezing your head off allergic, feline-hating monsters will find this a heart-warming account of friendship, hope and overcoming the badness that life often brings.

Brace yourself. After reading this, you may want to acquire a cat or three. Or to hug your dog, goldfish or hamster a little harder. Not too vigorously though. This reviewer accepts no responsibility for squished fishes.

What’s It All About Then?

James Bowen, along with his co-author Garry Jenkins, shares his initial meeting with a curious cat who not only infiltrated his way into James’s home but also his heart. Bloody hell, this is starting to sound like a romance novel…

In 2007 a cheeky ginger tom cat decided to rock up outside James’s flat and never took the hint that a busking, recovering drug addict with very little money, hope or faith in others, could commit to becoming a cat slave.

Bob was just as broken; underfed, injured and neglected. In James he found a buddy who understood what it was like to feel like an outsider.

A Street Cat Named Bob details Bob and James’ exploits; from a cat who steals the heart of London’s commuters, to a man who learnt that he was worth being loved and relied upon.

I defy you not to have your cockles well and truly warmed after reading this.

Written style

This book is written in an informal manner which readers will either welcome or find a little jarring.

Eloquent, high-brow fiction this is not. What it does offer is a conversational style of written expression where you feel you are curled up on the sofa giving Bob chin rubs and listening to James recounting their adventures.

Yes, it can get a little repetitive in places, but haven’t we all been known to do that when we’re nattering away with our mates?


Because these are real people, the reader does not have to stretch their imagination to picture them.

A Street Cat Named Bob
Bob, the dream book marketing machine.

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not just a book about a cat. Bob is the vehicle for understanding the personality and background of his adopted moggy minion, James.

James never shies away from detailing his battles with a heroin addiction and an estrangement from his family. Not once do you feel like he is seeking pity in his treatment of the ugly truth.

Throughout, James takes responsibility for his mistakes, both before and after meeting Bob. It is all the more endearing that this cat came along to help him to see how his life could be turned around. Pets really are the best therapy!

Bob is undoubtedly the star of the piece. He is naughty, loving and opinionated. In other words, he is a cat.

Entertainment/Reading Value

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it upon initial publication and again recently. It’s not often that I read books more than once.

I am a self-professed lover of cats. It’s what initially drew me towards A Street Cat Named Bob. However, I was surprised by how each related experience made me consider more deeply how destructive homelessness and poverty are.

This is so much more than just a trite ‘isn’t the kitty cute?’ story. These are real lives and a bond between two beings that shows us how we all need to connect to know our purpose and value in this life.

Bob’s forays into bins, guitar cases and the indignity of castration will also raise a few chuckles.

Rating: 4/5

You honestly do not need to love cats to enjoy this book.

If the idea of a cat freaks you out, cross out all ‘cat’ references and substitute with the pet of your choice. However, don’t blame me if Iggy the Iguana doesn’t ring true when you’re reading about him purring, meowing and eating a pouch of ‘Sheba’.

I urge you to read this book and be inspired by how when we are at our lowest ebb, even the smallest of things can throw a little light into a dark situation.

It’s even better if it’s a ginger fur ball sporting a knitted scarf and melting the hearts of London whilst you’re singing your heart out to pay the rent or selling the ‘Big Issue’.

About the Author

James Bowen (born 15 March 1979, Surrey) is an author and busker based in London.

His books A Street Cat Named BobThe World According to Bob and A Gift From Bob, written with the help of author Garry Jenkins were international best-sellers.

He now dedicates his time to help numerous charities that involve homelessness, literacy and animal welfare. (source: Wikipedia)

You can get social with James and Bob on:


Twitter: @StreetCatBob

Other Books Featuring James and Bob:

Bob: No Ordinary Cat (2013).

The World According to Bob: the Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat (2014).

For the Love of Bob (2014).

A Gift from Bob: How a Street Cat Helped One Man Learn the Meaning of Christmas (2015).

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

22 comments on “Book Review: ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’

    1. You won’t regret reading it! I’m really looking forward to seeing Bob in action in the film. I may embarrass myself by loudly cooing over him in the cinema though!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    1. It’s definitely not a sad book. There are some touching moments but you’re certainly safe from an unhappy ending. This isn’t a spoiler as Bob is safe and well appearing in the film and James is busy promoting it!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. I can’t wait to see Bob in action in the film. It will be worth watching for that alone!

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  1. What a great review! I especially love how you indicate whether people should “waste their lives” reading this book or not. There are so many good books out there. Alas, I’m not a cat person. I’ve been allergic as long as I can remember.

  2. Sounds like an interesting story. I’m unfortunately allergic to cats but I’ve always loved them and wished I could adopt one as a pet.

    1. Sounds like another person who will be able to at least get somewhat of a cat fix, if only by reading this lovely story! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. No love of cats required. Just a heart for how two beings can love and care for each other which I’m sure you have! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Looks like a very interesting book, worth reading! Love the trailer too 🙂 I agree, pets are the best therapy! Miss my cat a lot 🙁

    1. Sorry to hear you no longer have your cat Eugenia. I hope you read the book and enjoy it. I’m sure you will.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  4. Oh, the lover of kitties, books and movies in me absolutely needs to read this and see the movie. I just heard about this story in the news because of the movie premier and it sounds wonderful! Your review completely sold me 🙂

    1. I’ve just been to see the film and Bob steals the show! It’s no Oscar winner but it’s warm and gentle, just like the book. I’m sure you’ll love both the book and the film, Leigh.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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