The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs review code was provided by Electronic Arts.

It’s that time of the year again when we are blessed with a new expansion pack for The Sims 4, and it feels like it’s been forever. Well, it’s actually been an entire year since City Living, the previous expansion, has been released. It seems to be that the main things we are now getting in the year are more game packs and stuff packs, which deliver new gameplay and features in smaller doses.

The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs (which is a bit of a mouthful of a name – who is naming these packs?) is the equivalent of Unleashed/Pets for The Sims 4 and, as the title obviously suggests, brings Cats and Dogs to your game. Yes, you can FINALLY have Pets in The Sims 4. Unlike The Sims 3 Pets, there are no horses however it’s clear that this is the most thought out pets-themed expansion pack to date… but is it the best?

Let’s take a look deeper at the expansion pack and see what it has to offer, share some of our thoughts, and give you our verdict.

The new world of Brindleton Bay is easily one of the best worlds that we have ever had in a Sims game. It’s true that I said the same about Windenburg and San Myshuno, but every time there’s a new world it appears to be that The Sims team keep blowing it out of the park.

This new world isn’t the largest, but is the perfect place for you to live or visit with your new cats and dogs. With lush green spaces, plenty of trees, and public places. It has a countryside vibe and gorgeous views, and to be honest reminds me a lot of Appaloosa Plains.

As you can see from the map view above, there are 16 lots in total available for you in the world, which is more than some of the worlds, such as Magnolia Promenade. Some of the great new views and highlights include the lighthouse, pet parks where you can train your pets and meet other Sims, and also the docks.

But before you can do that, you need to actually create your pets… and I can honestly say that Create a Pet in The Sims 4 is the best in any Sims game to date. The amount of detail that this tool allows you to access in unreal, meaning you can truly re-create any pet.

We have a family pet called Kodah, who is a German Shepherd. Most dogs of this breed are quite dark, as the default German Shepherd in Cats & Dogs suggests too. Our dog, however, is very ginger and doesn’t have much dark fur. With the new tools, I can go in and paint all sorts of shapes, colours… anything I want onto the coat of the pet. This means that every pet is truly unique and you can re-create your favourite furry friends from real life!

Here’s a picture of Kodah, and my (quick) attempt at re-creating him in The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs.

You can see from the image above that you can change the brush size, the rotation, the shape, add stamps, choose colours (similar to Create A Style in The Sims 3). It’s insane how detailed you can get when creating your pets in The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs.

In addition to this, you can take advantage of the push and pull Create A Sim that you know and love when making your pets. Gone at the days of sliders. Want to change the size of your dogs eyes? Double click and go in and change them. You can even change the way the tail wags.

One of the things that I love out of all of these new features is the ability to make your pet pose in different positions, such as standing, laying down, etc, when you are painting them. You can literally get to every nook and cranny to make them as unique as you like.

Create a Pet is truly the most advanced we have ever had in The Sims franchise without a doubt. You will spend HOURS creating your perfect pet. Or, if anything, you’ll dress up your cat in a taco costume. Wait, what? Yes. You can dress up your pets! If that doesn’t sell Create a Pet for you, I don’t know what will.

You could argue it would be nice to have horses return in The Sims 4, however I honestly think it was the right decision to focus on the two most popular kind of pets, especially without the open world being in The Sims 4.

Once you’ve got a pet in the household with your Sim, you can begin to live your life with them. It is important to note that unlike in The Sims 3, you can not directly control your pets. You simply need to make sure that they remain happy and tend to them when they require it, as their emotional range is lower than that of a Sim. In addition to this, each pet takes up a slot within the family so you can only have up to 8 Sims and Pets within a household, NOT up to 8 Sims and up to 8 Pets at the same time.

Your pet will become Sims best friend as you build up a relationship with them, which will bring a smile to your face as you see the pets come to life. They’re gorgeously animated, and it’s clear that a lot of time has been spent developing them and thinking about the way that they interact with Sims and the environments around them. You won’t run out of interactions to perform with your new cats and dogs anytime soon.

Yes, that is Simstagram. You can spam your Sims’ version of Instagram with photos of your pets… which is something I am guilty of doing in real life.

In addition to all of this, you can now train your pets in one of two ways. You can get them to do the basic things such as fetch, speak, lie down, roll over, or sitting. But something that is much more fun, and that I love, is getting them to do complete obstacle courses. They can jump through hoops, go through tunnels, and more. This is something similar to what The Sims 2 Pet Stories had on PC back in the day, which is nice to see it return to The Sims 4.

You can do this with both your dog and cat, so you aren’t restricted to what pet you can train up for this. You can get them to do the course with you, and it will show you how many faults they had, or even command them to do it. Like I mentioned, this is pretty cool to see this come back for cats and dogs, as you could only train horses in a similar fashion to this in The Sims 3 Pets (from what I recall – haven’t played that game for a while!).

You need to take care of your new pets in-game, as mentioned, and build and buy mode complements this. There are plenty of new in-game objects in buy mode to purchase to improve the lives of both your Sims and Pets, and there are some new additions to build mode too in the recent game update that you will love.

Running a business has been one of my favourite things to do in The Sims since The Sims 2 Open for Business. When Get to Work launched, we had the ability to run our own retail business. With Dine Out, we had the ability to run our own restaurants which built upon this foundation. With Cats & Dogs, you are able to become a vet and run your own clinic. Alternatively, if your Sims’ pet is ill, you can visit the vet.

The addition of the vet career is something we haven’t seen since The Sims 2 Pets on the Nintendo DS back in the day, but this is the first time ever you can run your own vet clinic as a business in The Sims. As a veterinarian, you need to take care of all of the sick pets that Sims will bring in. The great thing is that you can have multiple vets working at the same time, so you could run a family business here if you wanted to.

When a pet comes in, you need to assess them by doing things such as checking their temperature, eyesight, etc, and keep them calm… otherwise they may not let you get anywhere near them! Once you have diagnosed the illness, you can treat them, and this will mean the pet owner will be satisfied and pay you.

It works very similar to the retail system we’ve seen before. People will have a star with a rating out of 5 above their heads to indicate their satisfaction, you can get retail perks, and customise the business including the uniform and employees.

The ways in which you can interact with different pets to diagnose them is great fun, and is a very streamlined and simple process to do so, unlike the doctor profession in Get to Work. This is one of the main selling points of the new expansion pack as it is something that we haven’t had in a pets themed expansion pack until now.

So, what does Cats & Dogs bring to the table? The best Create a Pet tool to date that allows near enough unlimited customisation and brings a Create A Style-like tool for colouring pets too. Gameplay wise, living with Pets isn’t something that I personally do in my Sims game in the long term once the dust settles on a new pets expansion pack. Although, I am enjoying having the option to add them once again when I want to and it’s nice to see cats and dogs around the neighbourhood in-game. Speaking of neighbourhood, the new world is my favourite to date with it’s country-like feel.

From my experience with early access so far, there are a few things I do want to raise. There do seem to be some graphical issues that I am experiencing with Pets where they will have thick grey lines all around them at close zoom levels, which will hopefully be resolved if it’s a widespread issue. I also feel like the way that the retail system keeps getting re-used makes Get To Work less of a unique pack which is a double edged sword as I love the new vet career and the way it works, but being able to run businesses does reduce the value this pack offers for those who are looking into it. Finally, I think a lot of people will be disappointed about the lack of option for direct control of pets. While this doesn’t necessarily bother me, as it’s like The Sims 2, I think a lot of people will have become accustom to this and will miss it.

Overall, I like The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs expansion pack. It fills a large void in the game that a lot of people have been asking for since the day that The Sims 4 launched and I think it does it well. They’ve really honed in on the experience and made sure that what is offered in the pack is strong and full of features and content. Full review score can be found below.

The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs review code was provided by Electronic Arts. This does not affect our review score or opinion.