BEN was the type of cat who generally improved moods wherever he lay his paw. Had that uncanny feline ability to suss out a cat-hating human, stalk it and skulk onto its lap when it wasn't looking – and not be kicked off.
People with cat allergies or childhood kitty phobias always liked Ben. He had that way about him, even if he did drool and, in his later years, knock you sideways with his bad breath.
My old tabby has given me pause for thought this week, because he's gone now. I "put him to sleep" a couple of days ago and then I put that on Facebook, because I felt immensely sorry for myself and guilty too, because he had no idea that his final journey in the cat box would be his last.
While my family "does" pets and have always had them around, there are people who reckon they're a waste of space. What possible planetary value could there be in errant poo blobs on the tiles? Or fleas on your ankles and fur on your toes?
My Facebook eulogy proves that most humans – or at least, those with whom I am friends, since I'm unlikely to ever have a cocktail with someone who hates animals and hunts them for sport – have a soft spot for furry creatures; even those of us who madly add kids to the mix and make our lives a living hell when toddlers pull tails and up-end water bowls.
My best friend has never owned a pet and it shows. Ben was her ultimate, all-time, absolute favourite non-person in the universe and he milked it like the man he was, every time she came to stay.
Given how people let you down, toss you about, take your money for poor quality vegetables and get elected to run countries, I'm not surprised that a goodly slice of us prefer the company of dogs and cats to smart-arsed human get-togethers, much of the time.
The problem is that non-animal lovers just don't get it.
They see their pets – if they have any – as breeding commodities, slave-labour security guards or pointless furry things that get in the way only because the wife insisted and the daughter's best friend's pavement special had puppies.
I need, then, to stand up for people who have pets instead of kids; those who take in strays which eat your space or demand walkies and then take dumps on the way; children who beg for a bird or hamster till they're blue in the face, even though you know that you're the one who'll be scraping droppings off the lounge floor in the end.
Animals just don't care if you spill your wine on them or swear at the TV. They'll still come for a cuddle if you forgot their birthday or ignored them for a bit because you just weren't in the mood. They're mostly dirty, but uncomplicated – sort of the way we'd like spouses to be, bar the dirty bit.
So to those of you who call yourselves "mom and dad" to non-humans – and clutter my social media networks and in-box with photos of their vet visits, days at the beach and sleeping habits – I've got your back.
Because anybody who can get a little teary-eyed about old Ben's journey into tuna-lined eternity gets my vote.