DEAR ABBY: We recently lost one of our cherished pets, our oldest cat, Mandy. We never had children, so our pets ARE our children.

I get that people who have never had pets don’t understand the joy and unconditional love they can bring. But I don’t understand why people we thought were close to us haven’t acknowledged our loss in any way. Some of them have — or had — pets at one time.

A few did send cards or emails, and they were so appreciated. Their kindness will never be forgotten.

Mandy wasn’t sickly. She just stopped eating one day. When we took her to the vet a few days after trying everything we could think of, the diagnosis was kidney cancer. A couple of days later we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.

My question is, am I expecting too much of people? After all, you wouldn’t ignore the death of a human child.

I’m not only disappointed but resentful that these so-called friends and family don’t seem to care. I suppose to some Mandy was “just a cat.” But to us, she was our beloved furry child and we are devastated.

Please inform people that a kind word or short note would mean the world to people like us who are suffering real grief. — DEEPLY GRIEVING IN ILLINOIS

DEAR DEEPLY GRIEVING: Please let me offer my condolences for the loss of Mandy. I know from personal experience what you are going through, and it is very painful.

That’s why I’m reminding readers that when they hear of someone losing a beloved pet, the kindest thing one can do is to offer sympathy with a phone call, an email or a card. Believe me, the effort WILL be appreciated and never forgotten.

DEAR ABBY: I have known this guy “Noah” for six years. We’re mostly just friends with benefits, but I’ve always had deeper feelings for him.

I always wanted to see where things could go between us, so I mentioned it to him. He told me that if he didn’t already have a girlfriend, he would have dated me.

So when they broke up, I waited patiently. I continued being a good friend to Noah, giving him advice and putting my own feelings off to the side. Then just when I felt us getting to another level in our relationship, he told me he had another girlfriend and we needed to stop.

I would never sleep with a guy who is with someone else. I’m not that type of girl. What should I do? I’m confused and hurt at the same time.

Should I bring up my feelings again? Just let him go? Or should I keep him in my life, but in a friend-only way? — JUMBLED EMOTIONS

DEAR JUMBLED: I don’t blame you for feeling confused. When someone’s words and actions don’t match, something is wrong. If Noah had been honest, you would have had your chance with him.

I vote for letting him go because you want more than he’s apparently able to give. If you do, it may hurt for a while, but it will make it easier for you to find someone who can love you back.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)