Meet “A Street Cat Named Bob”

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Back in 2007, James Bowen was a struggling street performer who happened to find an injured tabby cat lingering in his London apartment building. He began to care for the cat — who he dubbed Bob — and eventually, they became a duo, with Bob joining Bowen’s busking act. Bowen, who says the cat helped lift him out of drug addiction and turn his life around, wrote a book about their story called A Street Cat Named Bob that spent a year on the Sunday Times bestseller list following its March 2012 publication. On July 30, the U.S. version of the book will hit shelves, introducing Americans to a cat who’s already become a celebrity in the U.K.

Nowadays, the duo spend their days going to book signings and doing charity work. Bowen spoke to TIME to help us get better acquainted with this famous feline. Here are some fun facts about the Street Cat Named Bob.

  • He’s about 8 or 9. It’s hard to be sure, but that’s vets’ best estimate. And although he was rather sick when Bowen first found him, Bob’s now in great health.
  • He pals around with celebrities. Bob has met his fair share of stars, from musicians like Paul McCartney to actors like Rupert Grint and Barbara Windsor. Some of these encounters happened totally by chance — Paul McCartney, for example, stopped to say hello while strolling through London’s Covent Garden one day.
  • He owns more scarves than you. Bowen says Bob’s got “more scarves than there are days of the year.” He has one in just about every color and pattern — including stars and stripes. Most have been gifts from various fans who’d seen the duo busking around town or who’d read Bowen’s books. In the London flat the two share, there are eight large boxes filled with scarves — along with some other gifts (mostly toys).
  • He could soon be a film star. Or at least, he could be the inspiration behind a film. Bowen says nothing’s official yet, but the team behind Marley & Me are now tossing around ideas and discussing film rights.
  • He can do tricks. His best is probably the high-five, which he has really perfected over the years. According to Bowen, his other trick is that he’s “the ultimate escape artist.” If he wants to get outside for some air, he will find a way. And no matter how many child locks Bowen adds to the cupboards and refrigerator in their apartment, Bob finds a way in.
  • He keeps a healthy diet. Bowen keeps Bob on a scientific formula, even though his favorite food is Sheba. “He’s quite demanding about it, Bowen says, “but I try to keep it to a minimum.”
  • He’ll be the star of a Where’s Wally? reincarnation. (Also known in the U.S. and Canada as Where’s Waldo?) Bowen says he took inspiration from the website Around the World in 80 Bobs to put together a Where’s Bob? book, which will be released in England on Christmas.
  • He has a superiority complex with other animals. “He prefers human company to other animals,” Bowen says. “He thinks he’s a person.” In other words: Bob is special, and he knows it.

Watch this video to learn more about Bob:


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