Even those occasional people we meet who claim to dislike cats intensely would agree: kicking them is wrong.

It’s pretty clear-cut. Most humans understand that hurting cats, even if you consider them “vermin” as many do, is a foul and unnecessary deed. So too, inflicting pain on rats, seagulls, pigeons and other creatures you happen to prefer not hang out with you in and around your home.

There are always better ways to deal with these animals than through violence, right?

Now, how about your girlfriend’s cat? Imagine you detest this animal. It would seem that, despite your irrational feline loathing, your relationship with your dearest would compel you to act honorably towards her beloved pet. It would seem…

…but not for New Yorker Joseph Petcka. Allegedly intoxicated, he kicked a 7.75-pound declawed cat to death after his girlfriend stormed out of her own apartment and left the two alone together.

She contends that Petcka killed Norman out of revenge when she ended her relationship with him earlier that night. Petcka claims Norman bit him, necessitating his admittedly harsh self-defense maneuvers.

The judge in the resulting legal battle urged jurors to “use [their] common sense,” after they repeatedly asked to have animal cruelty laws explained. Meanwhile, New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser stirred the pot mightily with a goading rant against those of us who would call for justice on Norman’s behalf.

“Felonious Ball of Fur Deserved Every Blow,” ran the title, quickly followed by her withering first line: “The stupid cat had it coming.”

I honestly don’t know what’s worse, someone who would kick a cat to death in a rage or the kind of person who’s willing to advance her shock-journalist career on the back of a dead cat…by implicating the cat in its own demise.

Either way, this story’s got everything any self-respecting animal lover loves to hate: a wronged animal, a hateful defendant and an obnoxious, parasitic journalist.

All I can add to the discussion is the obvious: kicking an animal to death does nothing to recommend a human to the rest of his society. Petcka deserves to be punished, even if it’s true that he was “overreacting” (as his defense attorney claims) with his steel-toed motorcycle boots…unless, of course, someone can convince me that this man’s life really was in some sort of mortal danger…from a seven-pound marmalade cat.