Career Path / Showdown / Let's Hurry / Popularity / Together with Maya (Japanese: 「進路」 「対決」 「はやくいこう」 「人望」 「マヤと一緒」) is the twenty fourth episode of Azumanga Daioh.
While browsing the Internet, Sakaki learns that Maya's mother died in a traffic collision. At her house, Sakaki fills out a form for possible career choices, thinking of applying to be a veterinarian. She considers that she would have to move out and thus have her own pets. Even though Kagura blatantly points outs how cats are not attracted to her, Sakaki remains determined to have one when she goes off to live on her own. Later, on her way home with Chiyo, they are ambushed by a pack of cats led by Kamineko. As the cats charge at her, Maya suddenly appears and scares them away with a ferocious growl, just to fall ill soon after, which prompts the two girls to make a run for a nearby veterinarian. As they wait, Chiyo wonders how the orphaned cub managed to find Sakaki, who takes this as a sign. The doctor relieves them by saying that all it needs is to rest and be fed. Though the veterinarian suspects that Maya is an Iriomote cat, Sakaki throws him off by saying he is a mixed breed cat. Chiyo then volunteers to take care of the cub until springtime while Sakaki, determined to give her all to take care of him, finds her own place to reside. Upon hearing of the news, the girls all decide to stop by Chiyo's house to see Maya. While there, Osaka rushes to sit under a kotatsu in Chiyo's bedroom for comfort. Moreover, Tomo uses Maya to tease Mr. Tadakichi, which earns her a bite in the hand from the kitten and harsh reprimands from Yomi. After the girls leave, Chiyo offers Sakaki to sleep over so she can stay with Maya. They notice how Maya seems to treat Sakaki as a surrogate mother, as she shows Chiyo her true colors.
Sakaki googles Iriomote cats and when they discover an article about one that has got run over by a car, Osaka calls it "a dead pikanya". Chiyo corrects her by saying it is in fact a dead Yamapikarya, or Yamamaya, which are Okinawan terms for the species mentioned by Chiyo earlier.
Sakaki discovers that the dead cat was in fact the mother of the kitten she met on Okinawa.
Chiyo mentions how many cats that live in their neighbourhood.
On Sakaki's bed, there are photos of the girls from their Okinawa visit.
Osaka refers to Chiyo's decision to move to America, and also to Great Pyrenees (the kind of dog that Tadakichi-san is) being French dogs.
Chiyo sings her cooking song from the first episode, Tsukurimashou/Cooking is So Fun.
Chiyo shows Sakaki a cat catalogue called "Nekozukusi" (translates to "All about cats").
Sakaki mentions she has researched how to take care of Iriomote cats by reading books.
The reason Kagura calls Iriomote island "Nishihyou" is that the two names are spelled using the same kanji characters. Though "Nishihyou" is the most common way to pronounce those particular characters, this combination is widely known to mean Iriomote. This is why Kagura gets embarrassed when Tomo questions her.
Why Sakaki googled cats in the first place.
Where Chiyo learned about Iriomote cats often being threatened by traffic.
Who the people were that had moved away in this episode, and where they moved.
What profession Kagura ended up choosing, precisely.
When Chiyo and Sakaki discussed the cat catalogue that Chiyo brings here.
Whom Chiyo's friend was that she was going to live with in America.
How long Dr. Ishihara had been a veterinarian, and whether he suspected that Chiyo and Sakaki lied by saying that Maya was a mixed breed, or if he believed them.
It is unknown why Kamineko didn't bite Yomi or Tomo when they held out their hands. Possibly, Kamineko mistook Tomo's hand for Sakaki's since it was bandaged, but it is never confirmed.
The girls disovery of Maya's mother being the cat that was killed in traffic.
The students contemplate their future careers, and Sakaki decides to apply for a veterinary college because even if this means she would have to move from home, it would also mean she got to have her own cat.
Kamineko, being the new leader of the neighbourhood cats, tries to get them to help it attack Sakaki, but just as they are going to, they are scared off by Maya who makes a surprise return.
Chiyo and Sakaki take Maya to a veterinarian after he is weakened from travelling and scaring the cats away. After they learn Maya will be fine, it is decided for Maya to stay at Chiyo-chan's house until Sakaki gets her own apartment.
Sakaki spends the night at Chiyo-chan's house and rolls around the floor in happiness, only to be discovered by Chiyo-chan. Sakaki reveals to Chiyo that she loves cute things, but that she is dissatisfied with how she is not cute herself. Chiyo tells her that she in fact found Sakaki cute when she saw her and Maya playing together.
Oh! What'cha doin', Sakaki? Say, looks like you're on the Internet! Ah! Which means you're on the Internet. Forget I asked ya.
Poor thing. It'd be good if it wasn't her … But it's still not good.
— Osaka (on the dead Iriomote cat)
Allergies, huh? I guess it can't be helped then. Well, no big deal!! No cat you got would ever like you!!
— Kagura (to Sakaki)
Osaka-san sure is interesting …
I don't really know why, but that cat is always hostile towards me.
— Sakaki (on Kamineko)
Oh, Chiyo-chan! You've grown since I last saw you!
— Dr. Ishihara (a few minutes after their last meeting)
I'm not really sure what the right thing is. But, you know … I think he risked his life to come here because he believed in me … I think it … must have been really hard. I feel like … I have to do everything I can not to let him down.
— Sakaki (on Maya)
No! It's okay! Good work!
— Yomi (when Maya scratched Tomo)
That's some scolding, just for getting hurt!
— Chiyo (on Tomo)
Earlier, when I saw you playing with Maya, you were actually very cute!