Reminds me of Lev Vygotsky's socialization meme. Despite the Sapir/Whorf hypotheses or maybe because of 'em, we are born into societies where imaginary friends get called plenty. It's hard not to let fly a "goddammit!" or "Jesus Christ!" in moments of anger or surprise. I usually end up at some point with "For flyin' Frank's sake," but it's taken me some time to train the old dog that trick.
All the cats I've buried or seen die are still stuck in memory, and because of the society in which I was raised -- with all its memes -- I still mourn their losses as if they had gone from one world into the next, even though I know that the cats I mourn ceased to be cats when the last gasp of air departed their lungs. At which point I have to actively disengage myself from that association and face the stark reality of what death really means.
The bridge people (rainbow or $cientologists or Vikings or nerds) have their own socially-derived delusions to contend with. Doesn't mean I don't have to point that out sometimes, especially with non-human deaths. Humans can get a bit testy if I face 'em off with that truth. Most of the time I just let 'em be and shake my little primate haid. (He said as he prepared to go off to a visitation for a former co-worker who died way the hell too young, dammit.)
Something worth sharing:
"Another cat? Perhaps.
For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown.
But a family cat is not replaceable like a worn out coat or a set of tires.
Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated.
I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another."
(found at boutiquekittens.com)