Why Video Game Cats Might Throw Up

I have a cat. She often throws up. Why? Sometimes she gorges herself. Sometimes she's chomped on the houseplants too much. Sometimes she's just angry at me or my wife.

Cats in this fall's The Sim 3: Pets also sometimes throw up. As both the owner of an adorable yet barf-happy cat—and as someone who is fascinated with how video game designers decide to simulate reality—I had to find out why.

Last week, at a showcase event for game publisher EA, I found a Sims 3 Pets producer and he had some answers for me.

The cat might vomit due to "random hairballs."

OK. That's reasonable, though I wasn't able to get the Pets guy to tell me what the game's hairball algorithm is (yet). Apparently cats that are prissy and groom themselves a lot will have a greater chance of getting a hairball. Concerned about their looks, they'll risk feeling compelled to throw up more.

Another reason for a cat to throw up in the game: If they eat old, nasty food, they might lose it. That's reasonable!

And another: "It can be disgusted by horses peeing in the pasture."

What?

I am sure there are many other reasons a cat might throw up in real life. I bet there are other things that can make them throw up in the game. But I now at least have one more reason to keep my own cat away from horses.

I should note that horses are exclusive to the PC/Mac version of The Sims 3: Pets. They're not in the console or portable versions. (Apologies, but I realize now that I never confirmed if the fact that a cat can get a job as a ghost hunter in the console version is meant to balance that out.)

The Sims 3: Pets will be out this fall. My cat will have thrown up a few more times by then.


You can contact Stephen Totilo, the author of this post, at stephentotilo@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.