Reviews

The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs Review

Are you ready for the biggest Expansion Pack for The Sims 4 to this date?! I sure am! Let’s take a big leap onto the hype train and have an in-depth look at what The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs has to offer. A quick disclaimer: I might use the words ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ a lot… Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Code was provided by EA.

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Create a Sim… erhh.. I mean Pet

The Create A Sim menu has changed a bit. Vampires and Aliens have teamed up under the “Occult” Sim category, making room for a new button: Create A Pet!! Meaning you can now add cats & dogs to your beloved Sim families! No matter if you pick a cat or dog a few things are pretty much the same, so let’s talk about that first, shall we?

Personality Traits

Cats & dogs will have a wide variety of traits to pick from. The traits of cats and dogs differ, but some are very much alike. A cat would be called lazy, whereas a dog is a couch potato. There is a good balance between negative and positive traits. Some will cancel each other out, like territorial and friendly; your cat can’t be both. Just like Sims, pets will have room for 3 traits.

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A curious kitten in Create a Pet

Besides adult pets we are able to make kittens and puppies in CAS now too, which is a first as we could never do that in the older The Sims games. Believe me, they are so cute you could eat them!! Unlike younger human Sims, kittens and puppies start out with place for three personality traits, rather than unlocking them when they get older. I really love this system as it gives so much more depth to their personality.

There are many premade breeds to choose from. All of them are so detailed that if you pick certain breeds, they will already have personality traits that are known characteristics of that specific breed. Border Collies will be active, while British Shorthair cats will be affectionate. You don’t have to keep the trait, but it’s a fun detail and it shows how much effort went into portraying the pets in the right way.

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Lazy cats will take naps anywhere!

Customizing your Pet

If you don’t feel like creating a pet from scratch, you can also use the new tool: Breed Mixer. You can find this easily under the list of breeds. I love how straight forward & easy the Breed Mixer tool is. The randomization is great too, so your pet will definitely be one of a kind! It’s a nice way to quickly make a unique pet, without too much effort.

Don’t mind spending hours on creating one single pet? Good! Now you can customize your pet in ways that were never possible before. You can make your pet cross-eyed, with one blue eye and a yellow one. Heck, you can even change the length of whiskers. WHISKERS! Why even?! I don’t know why, but I LOVE IT. The amount of personalization is incredible.

I just need two words to prove how great the customization is in this pack: Paint Tool. Oh my… Words can not describe how amazing this tool is, but let me try anyways. The color wheel is making its comeback (Create A Pet only)! Combine it together with the amazing brushes, stamps and stencils and you got yourself a winner. Changing the opacity of the paint gives you the possibility to layer colors and patterns. Finally a way to recreate your own real life pets without limits. No more almost-look-a-like. NO! EXACT COPIES. Nailed it.

Pets will lay on their side so you can paint their belly and paws!
Pets will lay on their side so you can paint their belly and paws!

There are a few components to the Paint Tool as it is a very advanced creative tool to work with. Mirror mode is a great way to work really precisely if you want to keep both sides of the pet the same. There’s even a detail paint tool which gives you the possibility to paint the paw pads and nose, how cute is that?!

While the Paint Tool is amazingly well made, I admit that some parts of the Paint Tool take practice. However, I am sure anyone can get the hang of it eventually. It is definitely worth the struggle so do not give up if you don’t get it at first. I promise you’ll get better at it. :) You can read more tips and tricks for the Create a Pet Paint Tool in our guide.

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Foxes and Raccoons

For the first time in Sims history we will also be able to create foxes and raccoons. EA thought of a sneaky way to put them in the game without too much difficulty: they are breeds. Raccoons can be found as a cat breed, while foxes are a type of small dog. Both come with their own type of voice too! You could of course just give them a regular voice. Just picture a feral raccoon with a high pitched meow… Hilarious!

Foxes are troublemakers! This means they will need a lot of baths!
Foxes are natural troublemakers! They are a handful to look after

Foxes are a personal favorite when it comes to animals, so I might be a little biased here. I was beyond happy when the teaser revealed a fox, imagine how ecstatic I was when they announced they would be playable! Foxes come in four kinds of “color swatches”, so next to a classic red fox, you could have your very own Arctic fox too! I must warn you though… The fox voice is accurate, but that also means it is different to say the least. You could find it very annoying to listen to.

Raccoons will get the territorial and mischievous traits once you select them. I actually let my raccoon keep these traits and it was really fun as it made it more realistic. Their voice is scratchy and they are always roaming around looking for trouble. Cheeky little creatures! Very well done and entertaining! I think that if you give them a third trait like affectionate, they make a great pet for your Sim!

Dogs can have an outfit just for taking a walk
Dogs can have an outfit dedicated to taking a walk with their owner

Outfits for your Pets

Once you are done fiddling around in the Paint Tool (or Breed Mixer if you are lazy like me) you can start dressing up your pet! Unfortunately there are no outfits for kittens & puppies, but there are many great options for their older family members! There are regular collars, but you can also pick a bowtie if you want to add a bit more sass to your pets’ lives. Maybe finish it off with a top hat for your cat as well? Classy!

There are a lot of silly outfits such as a hotdog costume for smaller dog breeds, a sushi roll for cats, and a grilled cheese inspired headpiece for all. Why we are so obsessed with dressing our pets up as food, I have no idea… But one thing I do know and that is that it looks funny as hell and it made my day when I first saw it. One of my overall favorite outfits must be the swim vest with the shark fin for dogs, it’s super cute!

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But unfortunately certain items are specific for certain pets. While I understand why there is a difference between cats & dogs, I do not see why there should be a difference between small & larger dog breeds. Can you imagine a large dog as big as a Newfoundlander, running around in a hotdog suit? Or a tiny Corgi dressed as a llama superhero… It would crack me up, but sadly EA left out this choice which is a huge miss in my eyes.

Further I noticed a few other things with dog outfits in particular. The first thing would be that if certain races wear the unicorn tiara, their head gets squished. I get that it’s because the fur gets pushed in, but it looks a bit wonky. On the other hand, when fluffier breeds wear a collar, the thing partly disappears in their fur, without really squishing it. I wish they would have done that with the tiaras too.

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Create a Sim

Two new traits have been added with this Expansion Pack. Cat Lover and Dog Lover; the traits are very self-explanatory. It’s a cute addition to the game and one that surely could not be missed in this pack!

The CAS-items from The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs are of very good quality. The details are amazing and everything is very well made. The general vibe that you can expect from this EP is homey, but well dressed; Classy, but comfortable. Perfect for Sims who love luxury, but also enjoy the simplicity of the countryside.

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Unfortunately this homey vibe resulted in some of the pieces being a bit plain. It’s not that they aren’t of good quality, but I think that some of the CAS-items were a bit too much of the same thing. This has probably something to do with the fact that this pack is obviously built around pets, so people are more likely to use these items in a family setting. What I am trying to say is that the items make sense for this particular Expansion Pack, but compared to some of the items from previous packs, they lacked a certain “wow” factor.

One thing that bothered me was that this pack did not add any tattoos. A nice piece with a Maneki Neko or a simple paw print on the wrist or something similar would have been perfect for this pack. Maybe I am biased about this point, but it was something that caught my eye. Next to that there was no make-up in this EP either, which I think is a bummer for such a huge pack.

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Female CAS

The hairdos for feminine Sims are simply perfect. They are gorgeous, especially the full bush of curls. Amazing! I love to see that EA keeps adding more and more hair textures to the game. There are plenty of lengths to pick from too. One of my all-round favorites must be the split dye with the fringe, the only thing I did not like were some of the color combinations they made, such as deep red & fuchsia. Other than that, everything looked top-notch.

The feminine clothing is of great quality. Some of the pieces are stunning, such as the dress with cold-shoulders and lace details. Other pieces are a little less serious, with busy animal prints or the typical Crazy Cat Lady dress. Unfortunately I am a bit disappointed that there were no long bottoms for females whatsoever. Only in the Full Body outfits there were a few longer jeans, which I think is a bit of an illogical choice with the winter coming up. Luckily we have the silly cats & dogs printed leggings to cover our frozen legs during the colder days. Goes great above the kitty flats that are supposed to keep our feet warm too! Oh well, at least we look adorable. :)

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 Male CAS

There are a lot of hairdos for men in The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs… Or are there? Many of them are unisex hair. Which is fine obviously, but if you look at the masculine specific hairdos, there are literally 6 of them that are the same, just with another pattern shaved on the sides. It felt a bit lame, maybe it’s time for swatches for hairs too? Just throwing that out there.

Males got one Full Body outfit compared to 8 for women, which seems a bit unfair. The clothing is very, very casual. There was no particular item that really popped into my eye which made me go “ooooh shiny”. The quality is fine, but I would much prefer something more exciting. The one item that did pop into my eye was the turtleneck sweater. Cringe! Perhaps a good one to combine with the silly moustache that was added too! Rocking it, like a sir. Now, where did I leave my monocle?!

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Toddlers got one unisex sweater with cute animal prints on it

Child & Toddler CAS

I thought it was a joke at first, but I kid you not. For the first time in forever, boys got a higher amount of CAS-item than the girls. I love to finally see this happening for once. The quality of the items is very good too, basically like everything else in the pack so far. Boys are also getting more shoes than girls. Who are you and what did you do to EA? Just kidding, please keep going like this! It’s awesome.

Something that surprised me was that there were literally no bottoms for boys whatsoever. There’s one shorts for girls that you could use, but that’s it. And then again, why shorts..? It’s cold out. Give me some cute longer pants, please. Especially some that suit the cozy-looking boots you gave us.

The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs is the first Expansion Pack since the Toddler Update to be released. You would say that that would be a nice reason for celebration! Nope. We are getting a mere three CAS-items for this Expansion Pack. Very disappointing, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, the sweater that we got was really cute. And the two Full Body outfits were cute also… But THREE items is not even close to enough for an EP. I get that we recently got The Sims 4: Toddler Stuff Pack, but not everyone is interested in a toddler-only pack.

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The Build & Buy objects have a Dutch colonial design

Build & Buy

Build & Buy is downright gorgeous in The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs. The Dutch colonial style suits The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs perfectly. You can create a cozy atmosphere in your house easily, just by throwing in a few of the new items from Buy mode. They also added 8 new premade rooms, for those who aren’t as creative themselves or just want a quick build so they can start playing. The rural vibe of the rooms is a nice one to start out with for sure.

When I took a look at the rooms I noticed something. One thing that made me quite disappointed if I am completely honest. In this gorgeous pack, there are no kitchen items! So here you thought you could make a 100% matchy-matchy house; well, think again! Such a bummer, especially because a colonial kitchen would have been beautiful.

You can add a few new lot traits to your builds as well. You could make your home either a cat or dog hangout (or both, I won’t judge) and you’ll see more stray pets visiting your area. For the first time two traits are unavailable to certain kind of lots. Cat Friendly & Dog friendly can’t be use at your home, but they are perfect for a pet park or something like that.

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Build Mode

Builders are in luck this EP! There are plenty of new items to work with. We even got a new foundation type, which was a pleasant surprise. Everything is of super high quality. You can see that there went a lot of thought in the Build Mode, we even got a Roof update as the pre-expansion patch. While it is not part of the EP itself, there are a few items in this patch that can work great with the new roofing system.

We were given a grand total of two, yes TWO, new floor tiles. The new wooden floors are very nice, especially when used in a rural build. I just wish we got a bit more than two. A rustic looking tile for the new bathroom and missing kitchen would have been perfect for example. Yes, I can hold grudges. I want my colonial kitchen.

Wallpapers are looking nice, but a bit boring. 6 out of 10 new wallpapers are sidings with a roof pattern. While they sure come in handy for certain builds, I would rather have something to compensate as well. Just like with the floor tiles, there are some things I could think of that would have been perfect for this particular pack. I especially miss some kid-friendly wallpapers with cute animal prints.

Toddlers can walk through doggy doors. It's super cute!
Toddlers can walk through doggy doors. It’s super cute!

The doors and windows are amazing. I can’t remember when we got such a wide variety last and next to that, everything matches! Or… most of them. There is one particular door that has a beautiful oak wood swatch, unfortunately it did not return to any of the other doors or windows. There is also an unlockable door for vets and multiple doggy doors so your pets can enter the house easily. Pets will prefer to use the doggy doors, which I think is very well done!

There are lots of items to decorate your building with. From a spandrel to roof décor, everything suits this whole Dutch colonial vibe and I love it. Some are a bit straight forward, but it’s not in a disappointing way as it still works well with the rest of the items. All the decorations will add any finishing touches to your build. My personal favorite is the brick chimney.

Last but not least from the Build Mode section are the Outdoor Plants. Three new shrubs have been added. Two of which are a cat and a dog topiary, but I find these a bit on the smaller side. Luckily we can scale them up, but I am afraid of how pixelated they might look then. Now on to the most important addition: the trees! Like shrubs, there are three new items. But, BUT!!!! There are color swatches!!! We are getting a variety of beautiful fall colors & they are stunning! Maybe a promise for the future? Time will tell.

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The new window seats are amazing!

Buy Mode

The Buy Mode items of The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs are amazing. I think this might be my favorite pack so far when it comes to the Buy objects. You can whip up a cozy living room in no time by using things like the granny chair and the ottoman. Place them next to one of the new beautiful fireplaces and you’re done!

There are plenty of new objects for each room. Except the kitchen of course. Can you feel my bitterness yet? Good. EA can look forward a lot of angry letters from me in the next few weeks. But in all seriousness, you can style your house almost completely with the new items which is great as they are very pretty. The designs are flawless.

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We are getting a ton of new decoration as well. I got a bit annoyed by the amount of wall decorations though. There are what feels like a million of signs and decals, which could have easily been merged into fewer items. Just use swatches instead of a thousand of loose items. I don’t mind it being an object on itself when it has color swatches already, but I just don’t see why we needed 9 posters that are all the same price, size & environmental perk.

Next to all the Dutch colonial items, there are a few items that are more marine inspired. There is a fishnet, steering wheel and a lighthouse lamp, just to name a few. The last one is a personal favorite of mine, it’s so cute and tiny! The barrels that you can hang on the walls are super cool as well. Perfect for a marine inspired bar. Speaking of bars, there is also a wooden bar with little windows on it as if it was the side of a ship! Really amazing.

Gameplay

Let’s just start with the most obvious statement. The gameplay of The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs is cute, and then I really mean CUTE! You can do so many things with you kitties and puppers that it was a bit overwhelming at first. I decided to wing it and just go for it. So there I was, walking around like a headless chicken in Brindleton Bay…

Brindleton Bay is instantly one of my favorite towns. I love that there are two different neighborhoods dedicated towards either the felines or canines of town. It’s not that the other species isn’t welcome to visit, there is just more to do for the specific animal. The two neutral neighborhoods are amazing as well. Deadgrass Isle even has a pet cemetery, yikes!

Sims can visit Deadgrass Isle by boat
Sims can visit Deadgrass Isle by boat

The animations are so incredibly detailed, dare I say perfect. It is so amazing and every time I saw one of my pets do something new I couldn’t stop myself from saying “aaaawwwhhhh”. The animations feel so complete, so well-rounded. They got all the facial expressions just right, down to the last twitching ear! Kudos to the developers for that, I am very impressed!!

Your Sims, or actually your pets, can look out for a new collection! The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs adds a Feather collection to the list. I really love how they are displayed in frames that you can hang on your wall! You will need to send your pets searching for them in piles of feathers around the neighborhood. You will need to chase birds, like seagulls and pigeons, for the feathers to appear. It’s a fun extra activity to do, but not spectacular. Read more about the collection here.

Cats & Dogs

First thing you’ll notice when you have a pet in your household is that you can’t control them. Some people will love this, others will hate it. I am one of the people who hates it. I like to make screenshots and recordings of my gameplay. Not being able to control them means I can’t place them where I want them to be for certain shots. You can work around it a bit, but it’s mostly pure luck…

You can’t make them the active Sim either. So there’s no easy way to check their needs or how old they are. It works pretty similar to babies. Keep an eye out of the notification wall to get a message when they’re about to age up. You can still click their portrait to place them in the center of your camera. Not being able to control them does make it more realistic and surprising, so I can see why EA chose to do it like this, I am just not a fan.

Talking about surprising, we got two vacuum cleaners to play around with. For Sims there’s not much to do with the thing other than turning it on and taking out the trash once in a while (very useful for vets!). However, pets react really funny to the little machines. When they are scared of it they might cover in fear, cats with their tails all fluffy and thick. Is it evil to laugh at this? …It’s just too cute, okay?! The most hilarious about the vacuum must be the fact that cats can ride these things. They will look all high & mighty when they do and I LOVE IT.

The woohoo animation for pets
The woohoo animation for pets

You can also breed your pets. As there are no dog houses this time around (yay!) pets now have a woohoo animation and it is so freaking adorable!! Make sure you have enough spots in your household to be able to breed. You can still only have 8 Sims in your family, this includes cats and dogs. I wish they let you get a few more pets than that, as I personally love to play with bigger families. But it’s not too big of a deal, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Eventually your pet will die of old age. There are no other ways for them to pass away. I am quite happy with this, it keeps it lighthearted. Pets can return in the afterlife as ghosts, you may add them back to your household as per usual. You can also visit the pet cemetery near the lighthouse if you want to see animal ghosts. It’s a bit of a dark place to visit, but it looks really cool. The pond lights up green at night and it gets all foggy. Spooky!

There are many other little details about the gameplay that are downright wonderful. I shall not name literally every single thing, but I can tell you this: you shall not be disappointed after adding a pet to your household.

Sims as a pet owner

Your Sims will obviously have interactions with the animals around them. They can walk their dogs, play with laser pointers with their cat, you name it. Sims will obviously have to take care of their pets. You can’t just sit around and let them be, as they might run away from neglect! You can get them back by sending out an alert, but they might return pregnant…. Oops! Very fun detail in my opinion.

Children can interact with their pets too. They can hug pets and toddlers can try to imitate them, which results in a cuteness overload. It’s adorable to see them interact with animals and they make the funniest faces when doing so. Seeing your Sim’s kids involved with the pets of the family is super cute and I am happy they can start at such a young age! It makes the family complete.

Teen Sims and older will be able to pick a new aspiration: Friend of the Animals! As the name suggests, your Sim wants to interact with animals… a lot! It’s a very cute aspiration to complete as it involves trying to achieve a lot of furry friends!

Your Sim will need level 3 Training skill to send your pet searching for collectibles. The new Training skill is there to make your Sim able to deal with their pets better. Sims with a higher skill level will be able to discipline their misbehaving pets more successful and they will gain more commands to give to them. Weirdly enough, the more advanced the SIM is in Training, the better your PET will be in the agility course… I get that they listen better to instructions of their owner, but how does it make them more agile? Oh well…

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Becoming a Vet

Next to the Training skill, there is also a Veterinary skill. Outside of a Vet Clinic it will be quite useless, but you’ll need it if you want to become a successful vet! The skill isn’t super hard to level up, it just takes up some of your time. There are unlockable rewards for leveling up your Vet skill; at level 2 you will unlock two of the cutest mailboxes ever!

You’ll need to buy a Vet Clinic. If you don’t have a lot of money, you can start off with cheaper versions of the equipment that you’ll need. It works very similar as any other business you can own. There are ratings, you can hire more staff and you will be able to unlock more perks over time. It’s fun to see your Vet Clinic get better and better! Read our guide for more tips on how to make your Vet Clinic successful!

Once you’re open for business, patients will walk in. Some will look really silly with a red glowing nose, while others will have a bunch of slime hanging from their mouths. Gross! The animations from the examination table and surgery machine are very well made. By sugarcoating the whole process with silly & adorable animations EA managed to keep the innocence of the game, while still dealing with sick beloved pets. We also have a handy list of sicknesses and their appropriate cures!

Conclusion

The new Create a Pet system is amazingly detailed and is even overwhelming at first because of all the possibilities. Even while making the pets, you can already see the great animations and expressions that the animals will have and that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Paint Tool is amazingly advanced and I think people will spend hours using it to make their pets look flawless!

Create a Sim could be a bit disappointing for some people, but I think it’s just a matter of taste. The items are still very well made and the quality is nice. Sadly enough, toddlers did not get a lot of items, which actually surprised me as The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs is the very first Expansion Pack ever since the Toddler update earlier this year.

Build & Buy is gorgeous, but is lacking something here and there. The Dutch colonial style is beautiful and the whole design of the items is perfect. The new window seats are super cute and I love that toddlers can use the doggy doors. However, I really wished that they would have given some wallpapers for kids and I am still bitter about my kitchen. I already started working on my letters…

Brindleton Bay is a great new town with a lot of surprises to explore. The new neighborhoods are beautiful and each has their own specific thing to make them interesting to visit. I think my personal favorites are the harbor and the pet cemetery and I really recommend you go there! Both locations look very cool at night so try to visit them after sunset! Just a friendly tip! :)

The gameplay of this pack made my day. The interactions are fun, there is plenty of things to do and a thousand of things to see. The pets are pretty much flawless. While I am not necessarily enthusiastic about the fact that I can’t control my pets, I can understand EA’s point of view and why they made this decision.

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Code was provided by EA.

The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs

Create a Pet9.7
Create a Sim7.6
Build & Buy8.4
Gameplay10
Vet Clinic8.7
8.9 out of 10
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Sims fanatic since day one. I love to share my thoughts on the game, mainly about new features, challenges and awesome creations. To stay up to date, you can like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. I also upload Sims video's on Youtube every other day!

1 Comment

  1. So far I love it. I do miss the horses from Sims 3 though. I know it just recently came out so there’s obviously going to be a couple of glitches. Hopefully they get fixed soon! So far the common glitch is something does not process correctly at the vet or the vet didn’t calm down the pet, but my dog has been scared for at least 2 sim weeks. I eventually had to completely delete my saved game and start over :(

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