Joy woke up from her third nap of the day with a big yawn, and stretched her furry front legs out as far as they could reach. She rolled over onto a fresh part of the bed, and wondered whether she should stroll into the living room to ask for food or just go back to sleep, but before she reached a decision, her eyes closed and she was dreaming about chasing a mouse around the kitchen once more.
Cats like to nap a lot, and anyone who knows Joy would tell you that she is most definitely a cat. She walks like a cat, talks like a cat, and could win any cat-napping contest she was entered for. And when she sleeps, she only ever dreams about two things: she dreams about chasing mice around various parts of the house, and she dreams about the wonderful feeling of falling asleep on the bed (which usually leads to dreaming about chasing mice around various parts of the house…).
Something Joy loves as much as napping, though, is food. It wasn’t long before she heard a door open and close again, and she decided with a yawn and a stretch to go see who was going to feed her this time.
“Hi, Joy,” came a sweet little voice with a friendly smile and a wave. It was her big brother, Sam, whom she loved very much (she was pretty sure his name was Sam, because she heard the other big people say “Sam” in different ways about a hundred times a day – “Sam,” “SAM,” “Sam,” “Saaa-aaam…,” but it was possible his name was “Bud,” “Pumpkin,” or “Buggaboo”; she could never be completely sure).
“Miaow,” Joy replied.
She looked past Sam, and saw one of the big people. Of course, Sam seemed to be becoming a big person himself – she was sure that he was smaller than her at one point, but now he walked, talked, tried to pick her up…). It was the nice lady. Joy called her “Mommy,” but she was pretty sure her name used to be “Angel” or “Honey” – she must have changed it at some point. Joy sometimes wondered what she would change her name to if she ever wanted to, but this tired her out and she usually just fell asleep.
“Miaaaow…” Joy said to Mommy, and led her into the kitchen, where Mommy put down the groceries and scooped out some food for Joy. Joy swatted at the scoop to knock out some more, but she didn’t manage it – not today…
“Joy!” Sam came running into the kitchen, excitedly. “Joy! We’re having a birthday party for you!” Joy kept eating, but Sam was persistent. “Joy! Joy!” Joy had her priorities. She would think about her birthday party later – didn’t Sam realize she was eating? “Joy! It’s your birthday! We’re having a party. When Daddy gets home. And Buddy. And Tina. And Snoopy and Snoopy Jr.”
Joy was pretty sure she’d just seen Buddy, Tina, Snoopy and Snoopy Jr. on the bed. Buddy was a small blue and white sheep, Tina was a manatee about her size, and Snoopy and Snoopy Jr. both looked a little like dogs, but thankfully not nearly so excitable. They were all great friends of Joy’s, but all very quiet and seemed to like sleeping all the time. “On the other hand,” Joy thought, “maybe that’s why I like them so much.”
Joy followed Sam into the living room. He showed her where the party was going to be (in the middle of the living room floor), and assured her there would be cake (“I don’t think there will be any cake,” Mommy replied). Joy was looking forward to the party very much, but decided that Sam could handle all the details while she took her afternoon nap. She rubbed against Sam’s legs as she walked past, to say thank you. She loved Sam very much. He was a lot bouncier than she was, but he was always entertaining.
Joy told Buddy and Tina that she was looking forward to seeing them and the Snoopy family at her party, and laid down for a snooze. She dreamed about falling asleep and having a dream about jumping on top of a mouse that was sitting on a birthday cake.
She woke up with a start. Her eyes sprang open wide.
She’d just remembered something!
“I’m a CAT!” she said to herself.
She looked at the others around her. “Buddy!” she miaowed. “You’re a sheep!”
“Tina, you’re a manatee!”
“Snoopy! Snoopy Jr.! You’re… well, you’re dogs, I guess. You kind of belong here. But Buddy should be on a farm! Tina should be swimming in Florida! And cats… well, cats, I don’t know where cats live, but I’m pretty sure we don’t live in houses and sleep on beds! Come on! Let’s riot!”
And with that, Joy’s daily exercise time began. Her fur fluffed up like a giant duster, her eyes opened wide like golf balls, and she sprinted across the house with her claws out, shouting at the top of her voice, “MRROAARRWWW!”
Sam, who had been busy setting up chairs and plates for the party, quickly realized his favorite moment of the day was here, and chased after her with a huge grin on his face.
“Hee! Hee! He-hee! Joy’s going CRAZY! Mommy! Mommy! Joy’s going CRAZY!”
Joy was pretty sure if she ran around enough, she could find an escape route for all the animals, but where were Buddy and Tina? Why weren’t they making a run for it too?
“MRRAOOORRW!!!” she shouted as she ran back to the bedroom. “Buddy! Tina! Come on! We have to go! Right now! Come on! We’re animals! We have to go!”
Buddy and Tina didn’t move, so Joy realized she was going to have to go by herself.
She jumped off the bed at full-tilt just as Sam jumped onto it, and sprinted across the hard-wood floor, skidding with her claws out as she made the turn into the living room. She ran across the sofa, past Sam, past Mommy, through the kitchen, into the back bedroom… how could she get out?
But then, she heard her favorite sound in the whole world. The sound that reminded her how much she loved living here and how much she loved Sam and the big people. The sound of food dropping into her food bowl.
“Thank you! I love you, Mommy,” Joy miaowed, and ran over to eat.
“Ahhh,” she thought as she munched. “Life is good.”
She heard the front door open, and looked up briefly as she heard the tall friendly guy called “Daddy” come in (his name might have been “Ian” or “Honey,” though – she was never completely sure).
“Daddy!” Sam shouted. “Joy just went CRAZY!”
Mommy and Sam both gave Daddy hugs, and pretty soon Joy strolled into the living room to see everything set up for her party. Her friends, Buddy, Tina, Snoopy and Snoopy Jr., were sitting in a circle with plates in front of them (the plates had something on, but Joy couldn’t tell if it was real food or not). Even Mikey, Paddington, Elephant, Cow the Horse and others were there. There was a plate with no-one sitting behind it – and that one definitely had real food on it – Joy’s treats!
She jogged over to it, giving Sam a quick rub on the legs as she went past. She munched on her treats, and Sam placed a small present in front of Joy’s plate. She looked up from her food for a moment, but she couldn’t tell what it was since it was in wrapping paper.
“Open it, Joy,” Sam said with a grin.
She kept eating.
“Open it, Joy!”
Mommy and Daddy suggested to Sam that he open it for her (“since she’s busy”), so he ran over and ripped off the paper.
He put the present down in front of Joy.
“Are… you… kidding me?” Joy thought, as she looked at the best gift she’d ever seen. “This is the best birthday EVER!”
She reached out her paw and touched it. It was a mouse! Her mouse! Her very own mouse!
It was playing dead, of course. “It must be terrified of me,” Joy thought happily. She glanced at Buddy, Tina, Snoopy, Snoopy Jr., Mommy, Daddy, and Sam, and thought to herself, “I love living here.”
And with that, Joy’s second exercise time of the day began.