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In Nethack, several roles by default start with a kitten or a small dog, chosen at random. They seem to be very similar: both have similar growth cycles and behaviors. Is there any substantial difference between them that is relevant to the gameplay? Do they behave differently, for example?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Kittens and little dogs are statistically identical, except for a few differences:

  1. Kittens have the M2_WANDER property, which means they wander randomly.
  2. Dogs are harder to tame at night during a full moon.
  3. When they grow up, dogs become Medium size, but grown-up cats remain Small size. The only difference is possibly squeezing through narrow cracks, and that only Medium creatures can wear shirts and armour... which I don't think animals can anyway.
  4. When they grow up, dogs weigh more than cats: 400 for a dog and 800 for a large dog, whereas the housecat weighs 200 and the large cat 250.
  5. Dogs bark, cats mew.

(Source: Nethack Wiki, and Nethack 3.4.3 source code).

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I'd like to know more about how the M2_WANDER property changes behavior. Also, does the weight of a monster have any effect? (Besides, I suppose, the burden of carrying the corpse if they die?) – Kundor Aug 23 '13 at 0:27
@Kundor I don't know about other people, but I find that cats don't like to follow me. It's hard to get them to follow me through a corridor, especially with the _ (travel) command. I always have to go back and look for them. On the other hand, with a dog, I can travel to a location (say the > square) and wait a few turns for the dog to find me. – Justin Apr 19 '14 at 6:17

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