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  • After three years of waiting, it’s finally here: The Sims 4 not-Pets pack!

  • Aka, Cats & Dogs, the fourth expansion pack to the The Sims 4,

  • arriving at a suggested price of $40 USD.

  • And this time around I was not provided a review code by EA,

  • so it’s back to me buying the pack myself.

  • Not gonna stop me so let’s get right to it!

  • As the pack title suggests, Cats & Dogs isn’t as broad of an expansion theme as older, similar

  • packs, like The Sims 3: Pets.

  • While that one included cats, dogs, horses, birds, rodents, reptiles, turtles, deer, raccoons,

  • and unsettling ice cream trucks, Cats & Dogs features... cats.

  • And dogs.

  • Oh and raccoons once again, as well as foxes, each of which are respectively classified

  • as a cat and a dog for some reason.

  • Anyway, the whole idea of the pack is that your sims can now own and care for various

  • fuzzy critters, of which there are over 170 premade breeds to choose from.

  • Not only that but you can make a completely custom breed or crossbreed existing ones,

  • making for some truly inspiring combinations.

  • Say hello to the hottest new designer dog, the Greyhound Pug!

  • Scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could,

  • they didn't stop to think if they should.

  • And yes, since in this case raccoons are cats and foxes are dogs, they can be crossbred

  • with rather odd results.

  • Foxes and dogs I can somewhat believe since there have been Canid hybrids reported, but

  • domestic cats and raccoons?

  • Biology!

  • EA definitely knows it.

  • And don’t even bother bringing up the Maine Coon cat; despite the suggestive name it didn’t

  • descend from raccoons.

  • Besides, I’m mostly joking here anyway, because I think this kind of open-ended absurdity

  • is what makes The Sims games great.

  • Cats & Dogs provides the highest degree of customization weve seen in the game thus

  • far, well beyond what can be accomplished with humanoid sims.

  • For example, the color wheel and pattern tools have returned from The Sims 3, although unfortunately

  • it’s only for pets right now.

  • Whether or not thatll ever change I can’t be certain, but what I do know is that I was

  • seriously cracking up while creating dogs and cats that look like they were painted

  • by a group of dangerously-caffeinated preschoolers.

  • And it’s true, I've always wanted a taco cat covered in spray-painted goldfish with

  • its head stuck in a grilled cheese sandwich.

  • I guess you could call him "inbread," ha ha.

  • And of course, there are a number of traits and voices to further personalize each animal,

  • just like you’d expect with any other sim.

  • You can also choose whether or not theyve been spayed or neutered, so if you wanna role-play

  • as Bob Barker from the word go then that’s your prerogative.

  • And finally, there are a good number of new hairstyles, accessories, shoes, outfits, and

  • clothing options for your existing sims both young and old, including a healthy dosage

  • of crazy cat person attire, and uh...

  • This.

  • This right here.

  • Oh my.

  • All right so now that you have you furry friends where are you gonna play withem?

  • Why not try out the new map location: a seaside town with four neighborhoods

  • known as Brindleton Bay!

  • It’s a pretty attractive-looking, cozy little place in my opinion, although its inclusion

  • of more autumnal trees makes me yearn for a Seasons pack even more.

  • Sigh!

  • Yeah I guess I’ll wait another year for that if I have to, and until then there are

  • places like this where I can pretend fall has arrived.

  • And to populate these new lots there are over 300 new objects available for your sims to

  • buy in build mode, many of which are expectedly pet-themed with paw prints and dog bones,

  • but most notably among them are no fewer than eight new chairs.

  • I’m sure there are other objects of note, but as a wise man once said: “When youve

  • got chairs who cares!”

  • Okay actually, one new thing I’m happy to have are robot vacuums.

  • Not only do pets introduce more messes to clean up than ever, but they provide extracurricular

  • activities for your strange felines to casually enjoy...

  • *sounds of strange feline enjoying SimRoomba*

  • In addition to the expected litany of broad-use furniture, lights, signs, and various clutter objects,

  • there are plenty of pet necessities on offer.

  • Piles of toys, beds, feeders, litter boxes, and treats of all kinds have been added to

  • the game to make it feasible to fully care for your pet and give them a pleasant home.

  • Speaking of which, how do you get them home in the first place?

  • Well, other than just rolling your own critter in Create A Sim, your other option is to adopt

  • a pet on the Sim Internet or waltz on out into the world and befriend a stray.

  • Sims with cat- and dog-loving traits will find it especially hard to say no to strays,

  • and in all likelihood so will you with how instantly cute

  • and playful every animal can be.

  • Just keep in mind that a pet takes up a sim slot in your home, so if your household is

  • already full then, well, I’m sure youll come up with ways to free up some space.

  • *sounds of creative space-freeing... burning, mostly*

  • Once that’s sorted, great!

  • Whether you adopt through a service or through the wild, getting a pet is a surefire way

  • to keep things interesting.

  • For example, each pet has a number of traits, and those traits affect

  • what theyll able to do.

  • Things like affectionate, clever, lazy, aggressive, and hairy are more passive, self-explanatory

  • traits that determine their overall personality.

  • More active traits like hunter or prowler will give pets a separate set of actions they

  • can perform, either on their own or if your sim asks them to do so.

  • If they decide to obey, that is.

  • Your pets are such appealing little floofballs that even when theyre being stubborn uncooperative

  • punks it’s hard to be critical of them.

  • But let’s do it anyway!

  • Pets in this pack cannot be controlled directly, at all.

  • You can click their icon at the bottom of the screen, but all itll do it center the

  • camera on them.

  • And you know what?

  • I like it this way.

  • Not only is it a more realistic approach than being able to control them directly, but it

  • provides a little more of a challenge in taking care of them.

  • And as someone who’s been yearning for a bit more challenge and unpredictability in

  • The Sims 4, I welcome the change.

  • What I don’t quite agree with is the fact that there is no way to quickly and precisely

  • check the current status of your pet.

  • There is a total lack of a dedicated user interface for pets, meaning that things like hunger

  • level, tiredness, or bladder status are a mystery on a moment to moment basis.

  • Which, okay, that’s fine if youre going for realism.

  • I don’t know the precise status of my cat’s bladder in real life either and frankly I

  • don’t want to. Like I said, I appreciate some extra challenge here and there, and I don't

  • mind having to pay extra attention to my pet to find out what their bodily needs are.

  • But the part that really bothers me about this is that you also can’t even do something

  • so simple as look up how old your pet is!

  • Assuming that the interface in The Sims 4 is a representation of what your current sim

  • is aware of at any given moment, this infers that my sims don’t care enough about their

  • own pets to remember their birthday or what kind of personality they have.

  • Even The Sims 2 had this as a standard feature, along with plenty of other useful information

  • that I’d expect a pet owner to keep up with, like what skills they have

  • or who theyve met.

  • But nope, in The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs, youre left with a lot of guesswork for everything

  • from learned skills to their current freaking age.

  • Another reason I wish there was an information interface of some kind is due to the addition

  • of quirks, which go beyond the traits that you can see in Create A Sim.

  • Quirks are charming little behavioral habits that range from being afraid of computers

  • to being enamored watching TV.

  • Sometimes youll have a dog that’s just obsessed with the pool.

  • They swim in the pool, they dream of the pool, they are at one with the pool.

  • Other times youll have a cat that flips his lid every time someone opens the oven,

  • which is entirely believable as a lifelong cat owner.

  • While it’s nice to be reminded of these quirks as they happen, I’d really like some

  • way to look at them in a list of some sort, but again: nope, not an option.

  • Another thing that would be useful would be to be able to check your petstraining

  • level and habits, both of which can be addressed

  • by sims with or without the new pet training skill.

  • Whether by specific training exercises, on-the-spot scolding, or positive reinforcement, pets

  • can be taught to do things like roll over, stop scratching furniture,

  • and stay out of fights.

  • You can also put your pets to the test by creating obstacle courses, pitting them against

  • each other for a fast time and tasty treats.

  • Speaking of tasty, I also like that sims skilled in cooking can opt out of store-bought kibbles

  • and bits and whip up their own special meals, from squishy bone casseroles

  • to fishy carcass treats.

  • Youll need all the pet fuel you can get too, because dogs and cats can go into heat

  • and start feverishly looking for a mate at a moment’s notice.

  • When they find one either by chance or by you guiding their gonads, a quick nose rub

  • and some floating hearts can lead to a pregnancy.

  • Now remember kids: always wear a muzzle.

  • Before long youll have fresh new mouths to feed and the whole adorable process

  • starts all over again.

  • And finally, there is the veterinarian. A new career in the Cats & Dogs pack

  • that isn’t actually a "career" at all.

  • What I mean by that is that it’s not a job you earn a salary for, like a doctor or a

  • cop, but instead it’s more like owning a restaurant in the Dine Out pack.

  • So if you have enough money to buy your own vet’s office, then presto:

  • youre an instant vet!

  • No experience needed, just open up the doors and let the sick animals waltz on in to get

  • treated by your complete inadequacy.

  • Granted, the more you heal pets the more experience youll earn in the veterinary skill, but

  • it still seems a bit silly to me.

  • But whatever it’s The Sims 4, things are dumb and dumb can be fun, and man

  • can this be dumb fun.

  • For example, a cat comes in with a runny nose?

  • Time for surgery!

  • Yep, nothing’s stopping you from neutering the entire world against their will,

  • or for some real chaos UN-neutering the entire world,

  • so go for it if you feel inclined.

  • Or hey, maybe you actually want to play it how it wants you to, and in that case it’s