Film Club: A Street Cat Named Bob


Film - A Street Cat Named Bob (Released 2016)

A self-directed film club. Check out the features, facts and discussion questions below, which can help broaden your appreciation of the film. 

Watching the Film

You can watch the movie online on Kanopy Streaming Films, free with library membership.


Written by – Tim John & Maria Nation

Directed by – Roger Spottiswoode

Based on the books written by James Bowen, A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob.


  • James – Luke Treadaway
  • Betty – Ruta Gedmintas
  • Val – Joanne Froggatt
  • Jack – Anthony Head
  • Mary – Caroline Goodall
  • Baz – Darren Evans
  • Hilary – Beth Goodard
  • Elsie – Ruth Sheen


A number of books have been published about James Bowen and Bob

(Sourced from

A Street Cat Named Bob

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Bowen and Bob's public appearances attracted the attention of the Islington Tribune, which first published his story in September 2010. This was read by Mary Pachnos, the literary agent responsible for the UK rights to John Grogan's Marley and Me, who introduced Bowen to the writer Garry Jenkins. The pair produced an outline for a book which Pachnos used to secure a book deal with the publishers Hodder & Stoughton. Since its publication the book has sold over 1 million copies in the UK alone, has been translated into 30 languages, and spent over 76 weeks at the top of The Sunday Times' bestseller list in both its hardback and paperback editions. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life was published in the US on 30 July 2013, and entered The New York Times' best-seller list at No 7.


The World According to Bob

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The World According to Bob continues the story of Bowen and Bob's lives on the street, including the period leading up to their meeting with his agent Mary Pachnos. It was released on 4 July 2013 and was also a number one book on The Sunday Times' bestseller list.


Bob: No Ordinary Cat

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Bob: No Ordinary Cat is a version of the book A Street Cat Named Bob re-written specifically for children. It was released on Valentine's Day 2013.


Where In The World Is Bob?

Where in The World Is Bob? is a picture book in which readers have to spot Bob, James and assorted other items in scenes around the world. It mirrors Bob's travels in a blog, Around the World In 80 Bobs, where fans of the book take photographs of the famous cat at various locations around the world. It was published in October 2013.


My Name Is Bob

My Name is Bob is a picture book for young children, written by Bowen with Garry Jenkins and illustrated by Gerald Kelley, published by Random House in the UK in April 2014. It imagines Bob's life prior to him meeting Bowen.


For the Love of Bob

For the Love of Bob is a children's version of The World According to Bob and the sequel to Bob: No Ordinary Cat. It was released on 3 July 2014.


A Gift from Bob

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"A Gift from Bob" is a short story about Bowen and Bob's final Christmas on the streets together. According to publishers Hodder & Stoughton, the book reveals "how Bob helped James through one of his toughest times — providing strength, friendship and inspiration but also teaching him important lessons about the true meaning of Christmas along the way." It was published on 9 October 2014, and reached No. 8 on the Sunday Times' best-seller list. In October 2019, it was announced that a film adaptation of the book, directed by Charles Martin Smith and written by Garry Jenkins, would be going into production in late 2019 with a view to a cinema release in 2020.


Bob to the Rescue

Bob to the Rescue is a second children's picture book, written again with Garry Jenkins and illustrated by Gerald Kelley. It was published by Random House in September 2014.


The Little Book of Bob

The Little Book of Bob: Life Lessons from a Street-Wise Cat collects together pieces of wisdom Bowen has accumulated during his years sharing his life with his 'streetwise' cat. It was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 1 November 2018.


Interesting Film Facts

(Sourced from &

1. Multiple cats were cast to play Bob, but in the end, Bob played himself for most of the film. Other stand-ins for Bob were: Oscar, Booker, Jafffa, Leo, Ricki and Trayce.

2. The film grossed $82,703 in the United States and Canada, and $17,852,881 in other countries for a worldwide total of nearly $18 million, against a production budget of $8 million.

3. James named Bob after the character, Killer BOB, from the television drama Twin Peaks.

4. One of the reasons Luke Treadaway was cast was because he can play guitar and sing a bit himself. That is his actual voice during the busking scenes.

5. Luke Treadaway (James) and Ruta Gedmintas (Betty) had been dating several years before appearing together in this project and still remain together.

6. In one scene Luke Treadaway (James) is seen feeding Bob Dairy Lea Dunkers. This was Bob the Cat's food of choice during production.

7. This is the third film starring an animal that Roger Spottiswoode has directed. He also directed 'Turner and Hooch' (dog) and 'Midnight Sun' (polar bear).

8. The film won Best British Film at the UK National Film Awards on March 29, 2017.

9. The title is a spoof of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.

10. In the original book, Betty was also a recovering drug addict, but the producers felt that they needed her to be sober, and play a shining light, another reason for James to get clean.

11. The real James Bowen actually appears in the movie. He gets his book signed near the end.


Questions/Discussion Topics

1. What was your first impression of the film? Who was intrigued by the name?

2. Who enjoyed it? Did you enjoy it right from the beginning or the story as a whole?

3. What aspects about this film did you not enjoy?

4. Throughout the story were themes of old habits, bad patterns, difficult choices; things that were hard to break or overcome. Could anyone relate to these themes in any way? Areas in our lives that hold us in one place or don’t allow us to move forward?

5. From the beginning James is stereotyped by those around him and can’t seem to escape from that. As soon as he finds Bob people change towards him; what does this say about stereotypes, assumptions, human nature, societal expectations, etc?

6. We hear James sing throughout the film and his lyrics are quite inspiring. What do you think that says about James as a person; how he sees himself, who he wants to be or what he wants out of life?

7. The film dives into broken relationships and broken families; what are your thoughts on James’ relationship with his Dad? In what ways did this relationship effect James’ journey? How do you think James affected his Father’s journey?

8. Amidst the struggle, there was a vein of hope throughout the film – what were some examples you saw of this?

9. There were many moments where James had to do without, whether it be food, shelter, safety, support; things that many of us may take for granted. Did this stand out to anybody else during the film and did it make you see life differently?

10. Did anyone notice the pride James had as soon as he was given the apartment? He said to Val “I’ll see you out.” How important do you think this step was in his life beginning to transform?

11. Did anyone else enjoy the filming style; when they filmed from Bob’s perspective?

12. Even when James went for many years without, he still made sure Bob ate no matter what – what do you think that says about the innate willingness and need to care for something other than ourselves? Bob gave James purpose, having something to care for, how did that effect James?

13. In what ways did you see “connection” in this film; was it a good example of how important that is for the human spirit?

14. How vital was Val’s relationship with James, in terms of his journey moving forward; in what ways was this demonstrated?

15. Val said, “Feelings aren’t an addict’s friend” – emotions are still dangerous. What did she mean by this statement – how was this true for James? In what ways was is not?

16. This movie demonstrated it is not always good for people to be alone, relationships, community, companionship are all things we need and bring people together; what are some key moments that showed that?

17. Many time James thanked Bob throughout the film – do you think it was important he acknowledged that aspect of their relationship?

18. What did you think of James and Betty’s relationship; how did they hinder each other & how did they help each other?

19. James had opportunities to try and reconnect with his family – what could he have done differently and what could his Dad have changed?

20. James had the feeling of not being able to succeed, over and over again – do you think things would have gone differently had he had other supports in place?

21. What did you think of the scenario when the lady offered to buy Bob for her son? Did anyone feel she was acting entitled? Did she care at all about the mess she left in her wake?

22. Bob offers James many things, strength, dignity, confidence, purpose; do you think James would have found any of these attributes in himself without Bob?

23. This movie is about second chances and truth; how important is that in each and every person’s life - in what ways?