NOTE: This information comes from the Cataclysm beta test and is subject to change.
Cataclysm Starter Pets
See also: Starter Pet Chart
New hunter characters in Cataclysm start the game with a pet at level 1. Read on to learn all about these "starter pets".
What is a "starter pet"?
In Cataclysm, all hunter characters will start with a pet at level 1. This will be your only pet until level 10, and during those nine levels this pet will behave a little differently than hunter pets normally do.
This is your starter pet.
Each hunter race has a specific starter pet. If you want to start with a white tiger starter pet, for example, you will need to create a night elf hunter.
You can find a list of which race starts with which pet on the Starter Pet chart.
Note: A starter pet stops being a "starter pet" at level 10. This FAQ only covers the first nine levels.
When do I get my starter pet?
You will see your starter pet beside your character on the character creation screen as you are choosing your race and appearance.
Your pet will be by your side the instant your new character enters the world.
How do I control my starter pet?
Your starter pet is a lot more like a guardian pet than a normal hunter pet. In other words, you don't really have much control over it.
Starter pets behave as if they are set to use the Follow and Defensive behaviors: in other words it will follow you around and either defend you if you are attacked, or attack what you attack.
But you do not have a pet control UI. You can't tell your pet to Attack, or to be Aggressive or Passive. And you can't tell it which skills to use or when to use them.
Beta Note: Some hunters see a pet control bar when they first log in. This bar usually goes away the first time the hunter or the pet levels and it is not supposed to be there at all.
Beta Note: Pet commands like Attack, Move To, Passive, etc. are listed in the Pet tab of your Spellbook, but using them has no effect. Neither do macros like /petattack.
What if I lose my starter pet?
Your character starts with the skills Call Pet and Revive Pet in your Spellbook, on the Beast Mastery tab.
If you get separated from your starter pet, use Call Pet to call it back to your side. If your pet dies somehow, use Revive Pet to bring back to life.
You do not learn the Dismiss Pet skill until level 10. And you cannot abandon your starter pet.
Beta Note: Some hunters have reported being unable to use Call Pet or Revive Pet on their starter pet, leaving them petless. This should be fixed soon.
Beta Note: You can attempt to abandon your starter pet but the command has no effect; your starter pet will not go away.
Are starter pets useful? Can they hold aggro?
Starter pets add a decent bit of damage to your own killing power, and they hold the attention of enemies reasonably well considering that you can't send them in before your first shot.
Of course, it depends on the particular kind of pet as well. In practice, I found that most starter pets can grab agro from enemies at least half the time.
A hunter with a starting pet is most certainly more powerful than a hunter without one. Unless you have some specific reason, I do not suggest attempting the first nine levels without one.
What skills do starter pets know?
At the moment, starter pets know the same skills as their normal family-mates, which are the same skills that hunter pets have on the live realms.
Blizzard tells us, however, that the design pass on pets and pet skills has not yet occurred. So even if starter pets do keep the normal family skills, expect those family skills to change.
Can I rename my starter pet?
Yes, you can rename your starter pet just like you would a real pet: right-click on the pet portrait in the upper left of the screen and choose Rename.
As usual, you can only set your pet's name once; after that you'll need to use a Certificate of Ownership to change its name again. And some names are not allowed.
Beta Note: You may need to log out and back in once before you can successfully rename your pet.
Beta Note: Originally renaming your starter pet didn't 'stick', but that bug appears to have been fixed.
Do I feed my starter pet?
No, you do not need to feed your starter pet. Starter pets are always completely happy. Not even dying repeatedly can make them uphappy!
You will, however, need to start feeding your pet when it reaches level 10. Of course, at that point your pet is no longer a starter pet.
Note: This is actually true for all pets: a pet that is level 9 or below will always be completely happy no matter what; a pet that is level 10 or above will lose happiness from death, dismissal, and the passage of time.
Does my starter pet level up with me?
Starter pets earn experience and level just like a normal hunter pet: they earn XP only when you kill an enemy and they need 5% of the XP that you do to level.
You really don't need to worry about this, though. So long as you keep your starter pet with you while you play it will keep up with your level without you even noticing.
Can I stable my starter pet?
Yes, you can put your starter pet in the stable.
There's no good reason to do so, however, since you can't tame any other pets until level 10 and you probably don't want to make yourself less powerful by adventuring without a pet.
What happens at level 10?
When you reach level 10, you can visit the hunter trainer to learn a bunch of new pet-related skills, including Control Pet, Tame Beast, Dismiss Pet, Feed Pet, and Beast Lore.
Control Pet is the most important: using it gives you access to the pet control UI for all of your pets. In other words, Control Pet lets you actually control your pets, telling them where to go and how to behave and what pet skills they should use.
Note: Don't just learn Control Pet - you need to use it at least once by clicking on the skill icon. Once you use Control Pet it should unlock the pet control UI for all of your pets.
Note: You no longer need to complete a quest to learn Tame Beast or any of the other pet-related skills.
Do existing hunters get starter pets?
Hunters that already exist when Cataclysm launches will not get the starter pet for their race.
For the most part this isn't a big deal because pets that look just like the starter pets can be tamed later.
The big exception right now is the white saber tiger that new night elf hunters receive. White tigers can be tamed later, but at the moment there are no tameable white saber tigers. If this continues to be true, then new night elf hunters will have access to a pet that no one else can get.
There are two other tricky starter pets as well. The green moth that new Draenei hunters start with can't be tamed until level 62. And the Tauren's purple tallstrider is not normally tameable until level 70.
It's possible that Blizzard will make changes to starter pets to work out these kinks, or they may add more pets with these looks to the world. At this point, though, we don't know what they might decide to do.
What happens if I change my race or faction?
Your starter pet is not affected by race or faction changes.
If you start a night elf hunter, for example, and then change to an orc, your orc will keep the night elf white saber tiger.
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