Two cool cats… the Big Issue seller and a stray called Bob

Friday, 24th September 2010

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Published: 24 September, 2010
by PETER GRUNER

NOT since the legendary Dick Whittington has a man and his cat become such unlikely celebrities on the streets of Islington.

Big Issue seller James Bowen and his docile ginger cat Bob, who go everywhere together, have been attracting comments since they first appeared outside Angel Tube station.

The story of how they met – widely reported in blogs on the internet – is one of such extraordinary pathos that it seems only a matter of time before we get a Hollywood film.

James, 31, who lives off Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, is a musician who has fallen on hard times. 

He ekes out a basic living selling the homeless people’s magazine Big Issue at Angel and Covent Garden.

Bob was a stray discovered by James outside his accommodation one day. 

The cat was limping after apparently being attacked by another animal, possibly a fox.

After failing to discover the cat’s owner, James took him to the RSPCA hospital at Finsbury Park, which prescribed a course of antibiotics.

“I kept him for two weeks until he was well enough to go on his way,” said James. “But when I opened the front door to let him out Bob wouldn’t move. He seemed to me to be saying: ‘I want to stay with you.’

“Now we go everywhere together. I even have a cat harness when we go out and Bob gets really excited when I show it to him.”

The couple travel on buses and the Tube and walk everywhere together. 

To some, Bob appears more like a dutiful dog than a cat.

But when Bob gets tired he just stops, looks pleadingly at James, who lifts him and drapes him around his neck and shoulders.

“He’s a wonderful loyal friend,” he said. “While I’m selling the magazine he sits contentedly on my bag until lunch time. Then I buy him a tin of cat food.”

Now staff at Angel Tube station are planning to present Bob with a novelty Oyster card – and James admits he sells a lot more Big Issues when Bob is around.

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