Like Sims, pets have motive meters that contribute to their overall mood. In The Sims: Unleashed all eight motives are the same for Sims and pets. In The Sims 2: Pets, Environment is replaced with scratch (for cats) and chew (for dogs).
In The Sims 3: Pets, pets, like Sims, have six motives instead of eight. Each type of pet has one or two motives that are unique to it. Hunger, bladder, energy, and social remain for all pets. Fun remains for cats and dogs, but is not a motive for horses. The scratch motive for cats remains, but the chew motive for dogs is replaced with the destruction motive. In addition to the four basic pet motives, horses have thirst and exercise.
In The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, pet motives are not normally visible. Sims have to pay attention to their pets' actions to determine what their status is. Using mods, however, reveals that cats and dogs have the same set of needs—bladder, hunger, energy, play, affection and bowel.
In general, there is not much difference in the way these motives are filled in the various games, though some details will vary.
Pets need to eat just as much as Sims do. Luckily, they're not nearly as demanding about when or what to consume. To feed pets, there are two options. The best way is to buy a pet bowl. Pet bowls can be bought in the Pet subsort of the Miscellaneous sort of buy mode. The Sims: Unleashed includes two pet bowls, and many custom bowls were also made. Many of these simply add colors and styles, but some have been modified so that the maid will fill them or so that they will refill themselves. In The Sims 2: Pets and The Sims 3: Pets, pet bowls come in three designs, and each design has multiple styles and colors. The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs comes with two different normal bowls and two automatically filling ones.
Alternately, pets can eat human food as well. If a plate is nearby, a pet may help himself to it. Pets won't get sick from eating human food, but it's far more expensive in the long run to feed pets this way.
Once a pet bowl is bought, simply command a Sim to fill it. Ten simoleons will be deducted from the household account automatically, and the bowl will be filled right then. A single pet can eat for several days on one fill. In Pets and Cats & Dogs, only one pet can eat from the bowl at a time, so multiple bowls are needed for multiple pets. In The Sims: Unleashed, two pets can eat from a bowl at the same time, but since the neighborhood strays are more likely to come around to eat food Sims put out for their pets, multiple bowls is still a good idea.
In The Sims: Unleashed, pet bowls never need cleaning. In The Sims 2: Pets and The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, players should remember to clean pet bowls now and then before refilling them, otherwise pets will be forced to go rooting around in the trash. Maids may do this automatically in addition to their other duties.[TS2:P]
If a pet is hungry and its bowl is empty, it may beg a Sim for food. If it does, the Sim may automatically fill it.[TS2:P]
A Sim can give a treat to a pet, which will slightly satisfy the pets' hunger. In The Sims: Unleashed, the Sim will have to go buy them; five treats cost §40. In The Sims 2: Pets and The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, the family will be charged §1 for the treat, but there is no need to go to a store and buy them. Giving pets a treat also raises relationship between the pet and the Sim.
Pets rarely have low comfort meters, as they'll often look for places to sit or lie. Like Sims, pets will probably get the biggest boost to comfort when they sleep. As long as there are comfortable pet beds, or players don't mind pets being on furniture[TS2:P], comfort isn't likely to be a problem.
This motive is not present in The Sims 3: Pets or The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs.
When a pet needs to go, it needs to go. Cats will automatically seek out litter boxes if available. In The Sims: Unleashed, litter boxes on residential lots need to be cleaned after each use, though cats may still use them. In The Sims 2: Pets and The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, a litter box can be used several times before it will need to be cleaned. When a litter box needs to be cleaned, Sims and cats in the room will start reacting to the smell.[TS2:P] Until then, cats have no problem using it. Cats will only pee elsewhere if the box is too full, or if they have been specifically trained to do so.[TS2:P] In The Sims 2: Pets, cats can even be trained to use the toilet, eliminating the need for litter boxes entirely.
Until they are properly trained and housebroken, dogs are happy to go wherever they are, usually creating a mess in the house in the process. In The Sims 2: Pets and The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, dogs can be taken on walks, which will relieve their bladder needs. In The Sims: Unleashed, players can buy the Purinal Fire Plug and place it on community or residential lots. Dogs will often be drawn to it when they need to relieve themselves, but will not use it exclusively.
In The Sims: Unleashed, it is not uncommon for visiting strays to relieve themselves near the corners of a lot.
In The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, this motive is split into bladder and bowel. Pets relieve the bladder motive by peeing, and the bowel motive by pooping.
Pets lose energy quite quickly if they are running around, and so need to sleep about twice a day. They'll sleep pretty much anywhere, but they prefer pet beds and pet houses. In The Sims 2: Pets, they can also use couches or Sim beds if allowed, and can even be trained to prefer them if the player so chooses. However, a sleeping pet and a sleeping Sim cannot share a couch or the same side of a bed.
Cats and dogs have many ways they enjoy themselves, but they get the best fun boost from other beings. That can mean playing fetch with a Sim, or playing around with other dogs and cats. In The Sims 2: Pets, most of the toys in buy mode are for cats; dogs get a bigger kick out of social interaction and digging holes, though they think the chew toy is fun. In The Sims: Unleashed, Sims can go to the Pet Center in Old Town and buy toys for cats and dogs.
Cats also have fun watching birds.
A pet's fun meter will often go up while training a command. Of course, training drops the energy meter a little quicker. Cats will play with cat toys when their fun goes down. In The Sims 2: Pets, it's best to praise them when they do, because when a pet has completely learned the "Playful" behavior, the player can command it to play with whatever or whomever is available.
In The Sims 3: Pets, this motive is present for cats and dogs, but not horses. In The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs, it is renamed to "Play".
Pets are social creatures, even more so than Sims. Unless a pet is both independent and lazy, it'll almost assuredly take care of Social on its own. Pets will, of course, want to interact with their masters, but if multiple pets are on the lot, they'll almost always be interacting with each other. Either way, pets will interact with strays as well, keeping that social meter nice and high.
A pet in need of a social boost may try to get a Sim's attention.[TS2:P]
This motive is called "Affection" in The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs.
The hygiene meter is extremely dependent on the species. Cats are naturally clean, always licking themselves and making sure their meters are nice and high. Even pigpen cats are pretty hygienic, and will not let their hygiene get too low. Cats cannot be bathed, but in The Sims 2: Pets, cats who have learned to be clean can be given the "Clean Self" command.
Dogs require baths to get clean. In The Sims: Unleashed, this is done with the Squeek-EE-Clean Pet Tub, which costs §349. Sims can also take their dogs to the Pet Center in Old Town, and use the dog baths there. In The Sims 2: Pets, dogs are bathed in ordinary bathtubs. If there are not at least two free squares in front of the right-hand side of the tub, the dog will not be able to get in the tub.[n 1] After getting out of the tub, dogs will shake themselves, which will leave a puddle that will need to be mopped up. If The Sims 2: Open for Business is installed, and a Wet n' Wild Water Wiggler is present, a dog who has learned to be clean can be told to wash in it. Dogs will start scratching themselves when their hygiene gets too low.
Pets do not have this motive in The Sims 3: Pets or The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs. However, pets can become dirty in Cats & Dogs, possibly indicating that this motive is still present, but hidden even from the normally-inaccessible motives panel.
Scratch and chew
In The Sims: Unleashed, there is no scratch meter for cats, but cats will still need to scratch from time to time, and a scratching post is available in buy mode. Likewise, dogs will enjoy using chew toys which can be bought from the SqueakNip Pet Toys display, even though there is no chew meter for dogs.
In The Sims 2: Pets, the scratch motive for cats, and the chew motive for dogs, replace the environment motive. Cats need to sharpen their claws now and then, and will seek out whatever is nearby to do so. Dogs will occasionally feel the need to chew on something. Buying a scratching post or a chew toy in buy mode will lessen the risk that pets will destroy furniture. If a pet does annihilate a bed, couch, etc., it cannot be repaired. All that can be done is clean up the mess and buy a new one.
Pets can be trained to use scratching posts and chew toys, of course, but they typically will do it on their own anyway. Training is best done by praising the pet for scratching or chewing things that the player wants it to scratch or chew, otherwise it might fall back to destroying furniture. If a pet destroys valuable furniture, scold it, though it's best if the Sim has a good relationship with the pet before scolding it.
Chew toys and scratching posts can be bought under Miscellaneous objects in buy mode.
Respectful dogs and cats can be commanded to use the squeaky bone or scratching post.
In The Sims 3: Pets, the scratch motive is retained, but dogs' chew motive becomes destruction. The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs does not have these motives; instead, they're incorporated into the play motive.
- If the bathtub is located in a very small room, the faucet should not be facing the doorway, as the Sim will be blocking the door when they attempt to turn the faucet on.