It wasn’t long after I moved to England that heard the feel good story of James Bowen and Bob. If you don’t know there story, I highly recommend the movie, A Streetcat Named Bob. It is about a heroin addict (Bowen) who finds and becomes attached to a stray cat, that he names Bob.
Bowen is basically homeless eating out of trash bins and making some money by playing his guitar on the streets of London. One night, he was returning to his apartment when he finds a cat. For the next couple of days he takes Bob around the neighbourhood trying to find his owners. He finally accepts that Bob is homeless and ends up providing for him. In Bowen’s defense, he takes better care of that cat than he does of himself.
Bob seems to realize this and won’t let Bowen out of his sight. He accompanies James on the streets as he plays his guitar. In time word gets out about this street act who has a cat with him. YouTube videos appear as well as newspaper and magazine articles about this unique relationship.
In time a book is written about it and then the movie comes out. The movie and books were a success, making Bowen a millionaire. In the movie, Bowen gets off heroin and starts his journey in recovery. Bowen says that Bob was his inspiration for getting clean. Bob became the most famous cat, since another ginger cat named Morris did TV commercials for 9 Lives cat food.
With his new found freedom from drugs and alcohol, Bowen purchased a £500,000 ($636,575) home and it seemed like this was the ultimate feel good story. Sadly, this wasn’t the end of the story. Bob died at 14 years old after being hit by a car. But it was actions by Bowen before and after that event that have people beginning to question exactly what is going on. I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea what Bowen’s portfolio looks like but I think it is safe to say that if he can purchase a half million pound home, he has money.
First, Bowen had a fund-raiser for a “cat cafe” which raised over £160,000 ($203,465) was never built or opened and the money was never refunded. Instead Bowen said he gave the money to charities. Next, was a fund-raiser for his wedding. His goal was £10,000 ($12,714), which people gave money for. Yet, no one seemed to question why are we donating money for a wedding of a millionaire? Finally, only a couple hours after Bob’s death, he started another fund-raiser asking for £250,000 ($317,860) to build a memorial to Bob. Now on his Facebook page he is selling himself. He says he’s not a therapist or psychologist or a social worker, but you can tell him your concerns or problems – for a price! Voice of experience, if you want someone to talk to or someone to listen, go to AA or NA or any other 12 Step Program. You’ll learn more there than Bowen could ever teach you. Used the money you save for your pet, or your wedding, or your home. Just save it!
There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t understand, yet one thing I am an expert at is addiction. I have been clean and sober for well over 27 years. I’ve run 12 Step Programs in county jails. I’ve spoken at Universities about addiction and growing up in a dysfunctional home. I’ve been a recovery voice in the USA’s Recovery Month Programs. And my writings on the 12 Promises of AA were used for studies in Melbourne, Australia, at a SAA Convention. I mention these few events to show that I can speak from a clean and clear mind about the games we addicts can play. We are masters of manipulation and be the victim that the world has never seen before.
As a person in recovery, and having attended 12 Step meetings in three different programs, I can safely say that it is not in a persons best interest to ask anyone for money for things that are not a necessity. I love cats. Right now, my wife and me have our own ginger tom, in fact, he’s having a proper afternoon snooze on our bed. He’s a rescue cat, that we got after our last cat died at 15 years of age from cancer. She’s still with us. Her ashes are in a beautiful vase sitting on our bookcase. She had a few friends and was talked about to our co-workers and family, yet we would have never dreamed of asking anyone to donate money for her path to the rainbow bridge.
The wife and I are nowhere near millionaires and when we got married seven years ago, we had a very simple wedding that we paid for and didn’t expect anyone to donate to it to make it big show. Addicts make a life out of using others. When active, addicts steal, cheat, and lie just to assure their next high. Recovery teaches us to stand on our own two feet and not to expect anything from anyone. Please, don’t enable Bowen. Help him to grow in his recovery. Help him to stand on his own two feet.
As an alcoholic/addict asking for money that I am unable or unwilling to work for or earn myself leads to manipulation, game playing, stories, and flat out lies. Ultimately, it will threaten my sobriety. I’m not saying that is what is going on here, yet as a non-professional, there are some red flags popping up and I have to question how strong is the foundation of sobriety if money is constantly being requested.
With all that has been said, please keep in mind that Bob was a lost cat before Bowen found him. There are many lost cats everywhere waiting for a home. If you have the room please consider adopting a rescue cat. They know what you are doing for them and believe me, they’ll give you unconditional love everyday of their purr-fect life.