Ex-Big Issue seller turned author sets sights on cat café

James and Bob

James and Bob - Credit: Archant

A former Big Issue seller and bestselling author of A Street Cat Named Bob has hit a milestone with his next charitable project, celebrating his extraordinary friendship with his feline friend.

James Bowen is raising funds to open a cat café and education centre in Hackney or neighbouring Islington – both areas where James and his cat Bob spent time – to provide a home for vulnerable cats and a place where lovers of the book series can relax and connect.

James’ target is £125,000 which will cover costs such as licensing and the lease, and he is already more than halfway towards hitting it.

He said: “There is going to be the café side which is the business but it will also be a charity too.

“We will offer free courses in literacy and vet sessions to teach people about neutering and treating things like worms. We really want to spread the word about animal welfare to help the less fortunate cats.

“We also want to educate people on other subjects that affect them on a daily basis that they don’t realise – we are there to help cats find new homes and people who have lost cats find new friends.”

James is a street musician who found his moggy friend Bob in 2007.

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A few months before the pair became acquainted, James, who chronicles his experience in his debut book A Street Cat Named Bob had suffered a troubled past – homeless and living hand-to-mouth.

But Bob, who had been attacked by another animal, needed help – and James slowly nursed him back to health, putting the cat’s needs above his own.

When Bob recovered, James sent him on his way, expecting never to see him again.

But Bob had other ideas and began to follow James everywhere he went.

The two have now become inseparable and their tale of friendship has spread all over the world.

James said: “Being honoured with world book nights, it would be great to now educate others. I know the book opened people’s eyes and I tell it like it is. Bob is such an intelligent little man, he taught me so much; it would be great to have people know that Bob is my inspiration.

“I feel there is isn’t enough awareness out there – my book showed that – so many people benefited from it and I have benefited from Bob’s love. Writing the book, I feel that I should give something back because what goes around comes around.”

He added: “People, especially in the city, are just going from A to B. Bob made a big difference in my life and the book made people so much more aware of the situation – for example, many people didn’t know the Big Issue had to be purchased before it could be sold.”

People who donate to the campaign can also get gifts such as a shirt, mug, letter from James and Bob or a ticket to the grand opening of the café.

James will also donate part of the proceeds to both animal and human causes, including The Big Issue Foundation for homeless people and several other animal and literacy related charities.

To donate, visit igg.me/at/JamesAndBobCafe. To follow James and Bob, visit facebook.com/StreetCatBob.