"The One With The Cat" is the second episode of the fourth season of Friends, which aired on October 2, 1997.
Chandler has never really made his peace with the entertainment unit his roommate Joey built, but when he rips the sleeve of his suit jacket, he decides that he's had enough of it and decides to throw it out. When Joey expresses his dismay at throwing out something he built with his hands, Chandler opts to sell the unit. Even so, he's ready to accept ludicrously low offers (maxing at $50), but when the guys are offered a canoe, he fights Joey's instincts and refuses it.
Meanwhile, at apartment 20, Monica is excited to receive a phone call from Chip Matthews, Rachel's prom date. Ross is happy for Monica, but his cheerful demanor vanishes when Rachel enters the apartment. Following the furious arguement they had which resulted in their definitive break-up, Ross and Rachel are still at loggerheads. Ross gets one over on Rachel when he tricks her into believing that Chip Matthews called asking for her. Rachel gets embarrassed when Chip, upon being given a phonecall from her, informs her that he called asking for Monica. Rachel, however, doesn't want Monica to go out with Chip, who was horrible enough to dump Rachel in the middle of the prom to go have sex with another student named Amy Welsh.
Phoebe finds a cat in her guitar case with which she really connects. The incredible thing about this is that Phoebe believes that the cat is her mother (despite the cat being male). Although none of her friends really believe in this reincarnation, it's Ross who's most vociferous about it. To confirm his skepticism, Rachel finds a poster of a missing cat by the name of Julio which matches the one Phoebe found. She hates to, but has to admit that Ross is right. Meanwhile, Joey's still struggling with finding the ideal unit buyer, but his will to prove a point about his unit gets the best of him when he shows it to a man who can't believe that the compartment is big enough for Joey to fit in. Joey agrees to knock $5 off the unit price and gets in the unit, only for the thief to lock him in with an ice-hockey stick and practically empty the apartment of everything. When Chandler enters the apartment, he is horrified and demands information from Joey, who can't seem to prioritize the gravity of the situation.
Despite the heartache he caused Rachel, Monica goes out on a date with Chip Matthews, only to find that he hasn't matured or done anything to better himself at all since high school; he still works at the movie theater he worked in years ago, still lives with his parents and enjoys pulling wedgies to ex-school buddies as much as the average ten-year-old. This is good enough an excuse for Monica to break up with him. At the coffeehouse, Ross trusts the guys to tell Phoebe all about Julio the missing cat, but they fail as they discover Phoebe to have a source of happiness in the animal and don't want to deprive her from it.
The guys learn of the robbery at Chandler and Joey's, and are checking out the empty apartment. Ross joins the group, and is enraged to find that no one told Phoebe about the cat, so he takes matters in his own hands, hurting Phoebe's feelings in the process. When he's embarrassed by Phoebe's naive yet true words, he offers to make amends. Rachel steps in to suggest he apologize directly to the cat, knowing his hate to deal with the surreal. As this makes Phoebe happy, Ross lets out an apology to Julio in front of everyone. After that the girls return Julio to its rightful owner.
Chandler and Joey manage to get a piece of furniture for the apartment - the canoe they've been previously offered.