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?

1 Answer 1


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).

  • 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?) Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 0:27
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    @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
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 6:17
  • Does this all hold true for NetHack 3.6.0? Any additions?
    – Winny
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 4:42
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    Note that the carrying capacity of non-corpseless monsters scales with their weight, so dogs can carry heavier items than cats. This means they can steal more armors from shops, and are also more likely to annoy you by hauling your stash around. Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 7:36

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