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Pets are tame animals that have been adopted by a dwarf.
On the animals screen (z-Animals), you can mark most animals as Available/Unavailable by selecting them and pressing Enter. Available large animals may be adopted by any dwarf, but tame vermin will only be adopted by dwarves who explicitly like that animal.
Once an animal has been adopted as a pet, it will be given a name, and can no longer be slaughtered. It will also mostly stop hanging out in meeting area zones and rooms, preferring instead to follow their owner. If a pet dies, its corpse can not be processed; it cannot be butchered, its meat and skin can not be salvaged. Even when the corpse rots away, its bones and skull can not be used to make objects.
Cats are shown as "Uninterested", because cats choose their owners. They will not choose an owner if kept in a cage, although they might choose one in the midst of being transferred to the cage. Another way to keep the fort from being littered with pet cats is to turn them into +Kitten Tallow Biscuits+.
Dogs can be trained at the kennel as either war dogs or hunting dogs. Trained dogs can be assigned to a specific dwarf via that dwarf's preference menu (v-p-e, "Assign trained animal"). Trained dogs will follow their trainer around until they are assigned to someone else (or are caged or chained).
Immigrants often arrive with one or more pet animals (limited to dogs, cats, cows, horses, mules, or donkeys). The offspring of pets are always tame but not themselves pets. However, they will follow their mother's owner around until they are trained, become someone else's pet, or are caged or chained.
Pets, like other animals, will die of old age eventually, although this usually takes over a decade.
- Unhappy dwarves can be "comforted by a pet" and become happier.
- The pet will follow their owner everywhere, and cannot be assigned to a cage or restraint.
- Death of a pet makes its owner unhappy, though less so than death of a friend or family member.
- Dead pets should be buried in a coffin, or the owner will be even more upset.
- Pets can't be eaten unless the owner dies; the animal keeps its name but is no longer a pet.
Effects on performance
Depending on the computer, having a lot of pets can make an impact on FPS. This is one of the greatest dangers posed by a catsplosion, but tests have shown that killing a relatively small number of pets can significantly affect performance.
- Chained or restrained animals marked as Available will be released when they are adopted, though cats which adopt an owner while being chained/caged will not be released, resulting in a negative thought.
- If an animal is marked as Available and it dies before it is adopted, it will be buried in a coffin as if it were a pet.
- Cats which adopt owners will not be buried in coffins, instead being hauled to refuse stockpiles and left to rot, resulting in a negative thought. Cats which arrive with migrants are buried properly when they die.
- Pet vermin can still be assigned to cages, resulting in the amusing scene of one dwarf trying to put his pet on his shoulder and the other constantly removing it and putting it back into the cage.
These are the prices you pay when you trade for caged tame animals and the amounts dwarves have to spend to claim pets after the dwarven economy has started. An animal's value as a pet is independent of its material multiplier.