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Angel station Big Issue seller and his cat sign copies of book about their moving friendship

PUBLISHED: 15:59 14 March 2012 | UPDATED: 17:41 14 March 2012

James Bowen with Bob the Cat at the book-signing at Waterstones in Islington Green

James Bowen with Bob the Cat at the book-signing at Waterstones in Islington Green

Dieter Perry

Hundreds of cat lovers turned up to meet a well-known Big Issue seller and his popular pet Bob the cat as a book telling their heart-warming tale was launched this week.

The queue stretched far out into the street as James Bowen signed copies of A Street Cat Named Bob at Waterstones in Islington Green, Islington, on Tuesday.

A stamp made from Bob’s paw was used so he could sign them too, while all 150 copies quickly sold out.

James said: “I was amazed there were so many people and Bob was loving it. He’s not shy and he loves to be the centre of attention.”

The book tells the story of how James, a recovering drug addict living in sheltered accommodation off Philip Lane, South Tottenham, turned his life around after finding the injured cat in the hallway of his flats in 2007.

Despite having his own struggles to contend with, he took in the ginger tomcat and nursed him back to health, getting his injured leg treated at the Harmsworth Animal Hospital in Sonderburg Road, Holloway.

The pair have been inseparable ever since, becoming a familiar presence at the Angel where Bob could often be seen perched on his owner’s shoulders as he sold copies of the Big Issue.

James, who still lives in the same flat, said: “I took care of a cat and he’s taken care of me ever since. Now we take care of each other.”

The potential for a book was spotted by Islington-based literary agent Mary Pachnos. She said: “I thought there was a story there. We started talking and I realised this cat was really important to him. The reward he got for this good deed of looking after Bob is that it just started following him around.

“The idea of a guy who used to live on the streets getting redemption from a cat is fantastic.”

It’s a tale that has struck a chord with the hundreds who waited patiently in the cold to meet the pair. Ann Haskoll, 61, of Bride Street, Holloway, said: “I have three cats of my own who found me and I took in. I just think the whole story is really lovely.”

Graphic designer John Metcalfe, 34, said: “Guys aren’t supposed to admit it, but I don’t mind saying that I just love cats. The story is great – James was down on his luck but he didn’t just look after himself.”

James said people can expect to see him back at the Angel in the not-too-distant future.

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