From cats and puppies to dinosaurs and dragons, virtual desktop pets are a fun way to add a little whimsy to your computer. Since these pets require little maintenance, they are great for both kids and adults. Putting a virtual pet, also known as a cyber pet, on your desktop is easy. Simply download the software and your pet will appear on the desktop. Each desktop pet responds to your commands as you use your mouse or keyboard. In addition to being interactive, many of these animated critters even make sounds.
Free Virtual Pet Options
Unlike adopting a real pet, you can adopt, play with and care for a virtual pet completely free. Here are a few popular sites that offer no-cost virtual pets ranging from cats to parrots:
- My Cute Buddy: This interactive program brings a kitten with cartoonish features to life on your screen. You can interact with your pet by feeding her, sending her to the restroom or telling her to take a shower or bath. She is also very smart. She is able to repeat what you say, play the trumpet, master dance moves and participate in athletics. When you are not interacting with your pet, she sits on your screen patiently waiting for you.
- My Felix: Created by Purina, this virtual cat is a throwback to the black and white TV era. Felix is a very playful cat with several pre-installed features. One feature is the "butterflying" option, which places a ball on a string held just above Felix's head so the kitten can swat at the ball and try to catch it. Besides playing, you can feed, pet and care for Felix. In the settings, you can decide how long to interact with Felix and whether the cat is visible at all times.
- CyberCritters: These are fun non-traditional pets (no puppies or kittens here) to play with. Instead you can choose from bears, pigs and fish. These pets can be tired, happy or sad depending on how much you interact with them. They love to play, sleep and eat. You can even throw your pets like a ball using your mouse (don't worry they like it). Sometimes after you have toss them, though, it takes a few moments for them to rattle back down onto your screen. When you go online, these little critters sit on the top of the page, keeping you company.
- AV Digital Talking Parrot : If you ever wanted to teach a parrot how to talk then this is the pet for you. When you first get your parrot, it is like a baby eager to learn. The bird can mimic sounds, like your voice, and remember what it hears. It can repeat this information back due to the built-in database of common phrases. This virtual pet received excellent ratings from CNet editors.
Buying Virtual Pets
Your world of virtual pets and what they can do is greatly expanded with some of the paid options on the market. You can purchase the games online and download them to your computer or purchase a disk and install the virtual pet.
- Dogz 2 and Catz 2: Dogz 2 and its feline counterpart Catz 2 are virtual reality games where you and your virtual pet share a fantasy world to play in and explore. Both versions of the game have seven breeds to choose among. You can record your pets' thoughts, take photos of them to share with friends or earn badges. A new feature introduced in the latest versions even lets you know what your pet is thinking. These games retail for around $10.
- Sims 3 Pets: Sims is one of the more popular computer-based virtual reality games, and you can add furry little creatures to the family dynamics with the Pets expansion pack. With Pets, you can live inside the virtual world as the pet itself where you can chase, dig in the yard, be the perfect pet or a menace to your family. Your pet can learn skills -- like hunting or fetching -- and each of the pets have their own individualized traits. Since this is an expansion pack, you must have Sims to play. The Pets expansion pack costs around $15.
- 101 Dino Pets: SelectSoft Games offers several virtual pet games in its 101 series. With Dinos, you choose the dinosaur you want to be, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, and personalize the skin color. You can also teach your dinosaur tricks, enter them into talent shows and interact inside their world. Other pets from SelectSoft include ponies, dogs, cats, sharks and more. The price rages from $10 to $15 depending on version.
- Creatures: Currently there are two versions of these virtual pet games from Kutoka -- Village and Exodus. The interesting approach of these virtual pets is the educational component of their world, which introduces the concepts of genetics, biology, and ecosystem. Each Norm (what the pets are called) are forms of artificial life that come with their own biochemistry, brain, DNA and personality. Once a Norm hatches, it can be trained and, if cared for properly, will thrive in its own unique environment. The Village version of game costs around $10, while Exodus is $25.
Create a New Friend
Once you have decided which adorable animal is your favorite from among the many virtual options, you are sure to enjoy spending time with your new friend. These friendly pets are easy to take care of and do not require being let out of the house or taken on a walk. Another bonus is that the pet will be waiting for you each time you log on your computer