Mr. C and I have been together for over 11 years now and Rufus has been part of our family for the last 8 years. He's moved house with us, destroyed furniture, made us laugh with his crazy stunts, shed hair all over the place...
He can hear our footsteps the moment we open the front door of the apartment building and wait for us at the front door even though we live on 3rd floor! As far as unconditional love and acceptance go it doesn't get any more real than this.
Mr. C and I jokingly refer to ourselves as mum and dad and some people can't get past it. And don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that Rufus is a cat and not a substitute for a child. He's a cat and is treated as such though his living conditions vastly differ from a wild cat or a feral cat.
But still as a family member he gets treated like a member of the family not like some disposable commodity that gets thrown out the moment it's no longer useful.
Needles to say, they don't invite me over for coffee anymore. Fine by me.