Undoubtedly everyone has seen, or heard about pets in Runescape. Whether someone happens upon a player and their cat catching mice, or seeing someone just sitting with their god bird, pets are everywhere. The question is though, how useful are they? Sure they may be fun to look at, but beyond that they serve few useful purposes.
In 2003, a quest was released that introduced pets into Runescape. It was called Gertrude’s Cat. This easy quest gave players the ability to own and raise a kitten of their own. This was a very big update because players had been asking for the ability to have a pet for quite some time. There are many different varieties of cat, the player does not get to choose which one they receive after the quest though. The breed can be selected using a Ring of Charos, but that is from a different quest.
The cat remains the most versatile of all of the pets in Runescape. It is one of the only ones that is used in different quests, such as Icthlarin’s Little Helper, and Smoking Kills. There are many breeds of the cat, some are black, some are brown, others spotted, and yet others striped. The color does not change as the cat grows, but the pet just enlarges as it eats more and more. The pet must be fed periodically, so one must keep an eye on the interface that the kitten is on. If the cat does reach 100% hunger, it will run away. However, this does not come without warning and shouldn’t be a surprise to the player if it happens. Kittens especially require interaction to grow. They must be played with on occasion to keep them occupied. If a player does not do this, the kitten will eventually run away. But once again, this does not come without warning. After a period of time that kitten will grow into an adult cat that no longer requires food or attention for stimulation. It will just follow you wherever you go if you have it out, letting out an occasional meow.
In the quest Recipe For Disaster, a section of the quest is directed at saving a man by the name of Evil Dave, by catching hellrats. After catching a few of these for the quest, the kitten/cat will become a hellcat. These cats turn red and look rather ghoulish. They can be changed back by giving it a bucket of milk, so it is not permanent. The quest Ratchatchers also has to do with cats, giving them the ability to be lazy or wily, depending on how many rats they catch, or don’t catch. This can be done in the Rat Pits, an area specifically for catching rats, which can be accessed after finishing the quest. Cats are not the only pets in the game that can be unlocked though.
When the skill Summoning was released back in January of 2008, many new pets were able to be raised. These ranged from dogs and lizards, to birds and dragons. These pets lacked the versatility of the cat, only growing into the adult stage. The other downsize is that many still required food after reaching adulthood, which put a lot of strain on the player who wanted to travel with the pet. Because, once they ran out of food, if they were not near a bank, the pet would run away. This made players unhappy, saying that the only usefulness of having a pet out would be for alching, fletching, or some other bank-related activity. These new pets also could only be raised if the player had the summoning level for it. Dogs required level 1, so they could be raised by anyone, but dragons require level 99 Summoning, making them the rarest of all the pets. These reasons make seeing a pet rare, but there are other reasons that one does not see many pets in Runescape.
The idea of releasing more pets is a good idea in and of itself. However, when they bundled it with Summoning, it caused some problems. A summoning familiar is kind of like a pet, except more useful. They can actually help do things that a pet would not be able to do. Likewise, you can only have one follower at a time, so either a pet or a familiar must be chosen. People usually choose familiar just because of the things that it can do that a pet cannot. Unfortunately for them, high-density areas like the Grand Exchange do not let in summoning familiars. People with their pets following them can go in though. The pet becomes basically a accessory, only being around for aesthetic purposes. Another problem was that with so many pets, they would take up lots of bank space that players might want to use for other things. This was solved with the Pet Menagerie, which allowed the player to store up to 15 pets in their house. This really allows for pets to be forgotten, just like outfits in the Costume Room.
I think that players would like to see an update to these pets to make them more useful, but it would really fall on deaf ears. Most players don’t really care about or use pets. This may just be a shift in the overall attitude of players. In older times pets were much more common, just because there was nothing else they could really do with that space. But after Summoning came out, they would much rather have something useful to have following them rather than just a pet. It is only a very small minority of players that want to see more pets, and updates to pets. The general population couldn’t care less about them.
The story of pets in Runescape is a sad one. Coming from massive popularity with cats, down to the occasional sight of other pets today. The idea of pets came from a different, more relaxed time in Runescape, where people would sit around and play with their pets. However with the introduction of Summoning, it is a very rare sight. So pets will probably continue to lose popularity, but cannot be removed due to the quest tie-ins. Pets, born into a world that loved them, they will continue to fade into obscurity. They will only be memories of old players who will recall the times when they were a common sight throughout Runescape.