James Bowen spent nearly a decade battling homelessness and heroin addiction, but in 2007 he saved a kitten’s life. In return, the cat saved his.

A Street Cat Named Bob bookBowen found the tiny orange tabby curled up in the hallway of his government-sponsored apartment building in London.

The kitten had a severe case of fleas, so Bowen scrounged up enough money to get him antibiotics. He named the flea-ridden feline Bob, and the cat found his place at Bowen’s side.

Bob provided Bowen with companionship he didn’t know he needed and soon became the lifeline that saved Bowen from drug addiction.

Bowen scraped by as a street musician, but when he started bringing Bob to his daily performances in Covent Garden, he began making a decent living. With his friendly feline on his shoulder, he attracted crowds of tourists and passersby, who were more than willing to drop a few coins into his guitar case.

"The minute Bob started working with me, people started paying more attention to me," Bowen told USA Today.

Despite Bob’s popularity, Bowen said he didn’t want to exploit his feline friend.

"I had all sorts of crazy interest in him. Some people wanted to buy him. Some even said I was drugging him. But the truth is he just loves to perform. He loves the limelight."

Bob is certainly in the limelight these days. Bowen wrote a book titled “A Street Cat Named Bob” about how a stray kitten turned his life around, and it’s now an international bestseller that’s been translated into 28 languages.

At a recent London book signing, more than 200 people stood in line to get Bob’s pawprint on their copies of the sequel, “The World According to Bob.”

A Street Cat Named Bob” hits U.S. stores on July 30, and the book might soon become a Hollywood movie. The team behind “Marley & Me” is discussing film rights.

a street cat named Bob high fiveToday, Bowen and Bob rarely perform on streets — they mostly spend their days doing charity work or attending book signings.

At signings, Bob can often be seen sporting one of his hundreds of scarves that fans have sent him, and he’ll often perform tricks. One of his favorites is giving visitors a high five.

“Bob is such a smart little man,” Bowen says. “He opens doors. I have caught him using the loo in my flat. Most cats are loners, but Bob loves hanging out with me. We're partners and best mates."

Watch Bowen and Bob in the video below.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Meet Bob: Street cat, lifesaver, book phenom
The once-stray cat helped a London heroin addict turn his life around and inspired an international bestseller.