I love the way Joy lights up when she sees animals. On a recent long drive her sleepy little voice was still pointing out horses in the fields as she drifted off to sleep with a quiet, “moo”. All animals say moo. And all animals are cats.

Her big sister was given a toy cat long ago which has become the favorite of both girls. When Joy began speaking ‘chat’ was among her first words. I remember Bella’s first real day out in the snow. A neighbourhood cat was lurking under cars while Bella poked and stepped and examined her tracks. Then she saw the cat. “Meow, meow, come” and she set off after it. I was thinking of that day yesterday as we walked by a display of toys (everything but cats) and Joy, pointed excitedly, calling “chat! chat! mooooo!”.

We don’t have a huge number of toys. Certainly enough, but I try to keep things within reasonable limits. Having been through the ultimate de-cluttering of emigrating, J and I are determined to keep our possessions to a healthy amount. All clutter now drives me up the wall. I do believe though, that children should be allowed to have a few things of their own for them to love and play with and look after. A certain amount of attachment is good for the soul, I think.

Which is why when we moved we brought a big box of toys. J and I sorted through everything, and lost a lot of excess stuff. Most of what was saved and shipped consisted of books, and one rather large, very special, very decorated box of carefully packed toys. It was the first box we looked for and unpacked once we’d arrived, and having those familiar things around them helped the girls to feel at home. Or at least less displaced.

Bella’s cat, which has an odd habit of changing name (Catty, Badger, Moses, Giraffe, and a few I never could pronounce) has been a constant cuddly companion for her. She looks for him when she’s sad or excited. She gives him to Joy when she needs cheering up. Her beloved little friend.

I think it may be time to find Joy a chat of her very own.