New Pet? You Have 30 Minutes to Feed It

I’ve been trying to figure out the intricacies of hunter pet loyalty for many weeks now. It’s slow going, in part because building up and losing loyalty takes so bloody long. I haven’t gotten very far with it yet, but I have found out a couple of interesting and possibly useful bits of related information that I wanted to share.

First useful bit: A just-tamed pet that is never fed will stick around for 30 minutes before it runs away.

The level of the hunter doesn’t affect this time, nor does the level of the pet nor the family of pet. It doesn’t matter whether you spend that time fighting or sitting in town. It’s all the same to your new, unhappy, unfed pet. He’s going to stick around for 30 minutes with no food, and then he’s going to take off.

What does affect the amount of time your new pet is willing to stick around is whether or not he’s active — that is, out by your side. As you might expect, the timer stops when you log out and when you stash your new pet in the stable. And time that the pet spends dismissed doesn’t count either — whether he was dismissed explicitly with Dismiss Pet, or automatically (either when you got out of range or when you mounted up). Nor is the timer going when your new pet is dead.*

And although both dying and being dismissed will make your pet unhappy, neither one speeds up your pets departure. You can dismiss and recall a newly tamed pet over and over again, and it won’t run away any earlier. (In fact, it will take it a bit longer since the time it spends dismissed doesn’t count.) Likewise, you can let your new pet die and resurrect him as much as you like — even flagrant abuse like that won’t drive him off more quickly.

Why is this useful? Well, for one thing it means you can be a little more relaxed about the taming process. I know that I am constantly forgetting to take appropriate food with me when I go to tame a new pet, and then I get terribly nervous that I’m going to lose it and recall home and fumble around trying to find a vendor of the right type and basically freak out. But now I know that I have a goodly amount of time to find some food — and if I need to, I can use the new pet to help me get out of a sticky situation, then dismiss him or even let him die so I can go looking for food in a more leisurely fashion, with no harm done.

Now for the incipient theory. :>

I’ve been talking about this as a simple timer, but based on the data I have so far I am guessing that the running away behavior is actually controlled by loyalty — that a pet runs away when its loyalty reaches zero. My theory is that we can directly affect happiness (positively and negatively) and that happiness affects the rate of loyalty gain and loss in a fairly simple fashion. For example, I am guessing that an unhappy pet loses loyalty at a constant rate. So once your pet hits the bottom of the unhappiness scale, lowering his happiness by dismissing him or letting him die is immaterial — his loyalty is going to decrease at a constant rate, and when his loyalty hits zero he will run away. Of course, I have a lot more data to gather before I can prove that hypothesis, or even extend it to loyalty gain. 

[EDIT: I have a lot more testing to do on the below dismiss-related bits (see the comments), so take it with a grain of salt for now.] Some other odd notes I discovered while I was testing this:

  • If you dismiss and recall your pet, he comes back with about 60% of the health he had when you dismissed him. [EDIT: The percentage seems to be related to the pet family, but I need to investigate this more.] (Do this quickly, over and over, and your pet will soon be called with just a fraction of his health.) If you wait at least 60 seconds between dismissing and recalling him, however, he will heal up to his max health a tick later. [EDIT: If you look at your combat log, you see "You gain Dismiss Pet." when you first dismiss a pet, and one minute later: "Dismiss Pet fades from you." This is presumably a (mostly) invisible debuff that controls the instant-heal behavior.]
  • If you tell your pet to stay and run out of his range so that he is automatically dismissed, and then immediately call him, he will appear with only a percentage of his health, as if he were dismissed, but he will heal up to max health on the next tick, regardless of how long it’s been since you left his range.
  • This percentage loss of health does not affect your pet at all when you mount and remount quickly. When you dismount, your pet will reappear with the exact health that he had when you mounted.

Note that I did most of my testing on the PTR so I didn’t have to sacrifice any of my real pets (and so there were fewer people around to laugh at me). But I verified several of the experiments on the live servers this evening, and all the data matches, so I have no reason to believe that any of this has changed in this upcoming patch. But if your experiences are different please let me know.

* Yes, I tested all these different conditions as scientifically as I could. Yes, that meant that I spent a large portion of today sitting in-game with a stopwatch waiting for my pet to get fed up and run away. Yes, it was incredibly boring. But no, I wasn’t able to help myself — I just had to know. And yes, I am weird. *grin*

21 thoughts on “New Pet? You Have 30 Minutes to Feed It

  1. Darkhallow

    Wow, that’s some great work, thanks! I remember during the TBC beta your pet would always get full health a tick after you called him.

  2. DM Osbon

    Just tain the process of taming other pets so that I can acquire more skills for my stabled pet. I had noted that a newly tamed pet won’t run out on you immediately if you don’t feed it…30 minutes is a good length of time in anyones book, nice post Mania.

  3. Whosit


    I’m so anal about keeping my pet at green smiley face that I haven’t had one run away yet. Nice to know it’s set at 30 minutes and not random.

  4. Krush

    But we LOVE your ‘weird’ness !!!

    This of course makes me think of a few other questions… If we feed a pet, then dismiss him (or mount), does it loose the feeding ticks, or continue them when we recall him (dismount).

    And, I believe we loose Spirit Bond when we mount. That one I really don’t like :(

  5. Branan

    I’ve only done it by accident, but a pet does “resume” feeding if it is dismissed while Feed Pet is ticking. Not 100% sure if Heal Pet does the same, but I suspect it does; both conditions are treated like buffs, and will reappear on the pet when it is resummoned.

  6. Mania Post author

    It looks like there’s a lot more stuff for me to test with dismissing a pet.

    I can confirm that Food Pet and Mend Pet pick back up when you recall your pet, but on first glance it looks as if you might lose the ticks that happened while it was dismissed.

    Also, it turns out that if I had just looked at my combat chat tab, I would have seen an effect called Dismiss Pet on *me* that starts when I first dismiss a pet and fades one minute later. That’s presumably what’s controlling the instant-heal behavior.

    And finally, it looks like the percentage of health the pet loses depends on the fanily of the pet. That was just an aside so I didn’t make note of it with all the families I tested.

    I’m going to edit the post here and then pull a lot of the dismiss info out into its own post once I finish testing it.

  7. Shakkan

    I think maybe the “heal a tick later” mechanic is to account for things like the Gianstalker Set bonus, which adds to the pet health but is in fact a very short buff that continuosly reapplies (watch your pets buff bar). When the pet is summoned, he doesn’t have the buff until the armor reapplies it, so the pet gets healed shortly after in order to account for the difference in health with and without this “always on” buff.

  8. Zaklu

    yo i got a question, back in my nooby days i heard that sometimes ur pet will attack u if they get pissed enough, is it true? id never no cause none of my pets ever ran away from me.

  9. Gazmik Fizzwidget

    I’d bet the “heal a tick later” thing is a result of pet stats (in this case Stamina) being modified by your own (and/or possibly also the Great Stamina pet skill and the Endurance Training talent). So he spawns at 100% of his health but with his base stamina, and then the modified stats kick in and he regens up to the new 100% (faster with Spirit Bond).

    My hunter, er, friend has been using the “Pet EXP Info Bar” addon recently as he trains up a boar (and curses about the L70 boars in SMV being untameable demons). I’ve noticed thanks to it refreshing a little slower than the default PetPaperDollFrame (well, and not hiding some of the stats in tooltips) that this issue also applies to other stats — it shows a 2.0 attack speed briefly, and then the Serpent’s Swiftness kicks in and lowers it to 1.67 (or further if the pet also has Cobra Reflexes).

  10. Mania Post author

    Gazmik: Your theory about pets being summoned with only their base health makes logical sense, but unfortunately doesn’t quite fit the data I was seeing on the PTR. What I saw was this: I dismiss a cat with full health (say 5000). I summon him back immediately, and he has 3000 health. I dismiss him again immediately and summon him again: 1800 health. One more dismiss and recall: 1080 health. At this point Spirit Bond’s ability to heal catches up with my ability to dimiss him fast and I can’t get him much lower.

    On the other hand, I just retested this on the live servers and I am not seeing this behavior. On the live world, my cat won’t go lower than about 88% of his health when he is called, which fits the base health theory pretty well. So perhaps this is a change or a bug on the PTR.

    I’ll retest on the PTR when it comes back up. It’s a fairly minor thing at any rate (so long as you don’t dismiss and recall your pet multiple times per minute right before diving into a fight!) It is useful for dumping a pet’s health in a hurry to test Mend Pet, but I suspect I am the only one who cares about that. :>

  11. Mania Post author

    Ah, that one is easy, Someone. :> Your pet won’t gain Training Points until it’s loyalty is at least level 2 (because the formula for Training Points includes the term (Loyalty Level – 1), so at a loyalty of 1 you are multiplying by 0). So to gain Training Points, you need to get your loyalty up, and to get your loyalty up you must feed your pet.

  12. Dmouse

    Hi all,
    Just want to ask, basically i realised that when lvling a pet at from lvl 30 to lvl 70, its much better to kill mobs at lvl 66 or so. The lvl’s are much faster that way, But if i just trained a pet at lvl 69 , Should i be killing 70′s or just the usual 66′s ? And how long will it take to get that pet to 70 at a contant rate of killing a 70 or a 66. Reason being 70′s take longer, and 66′s take shorter time. Which means if i kill 1 – 70 mobs i can end up killing 2- 66 mobs.

    Sorry i am still a noob after playing a hunter for over a year now. Still learning about new things about hunters and their pets that sometimes amazes me.
    I also realised that when mounted in Arena, your pet doesn’t dissappear. Dmouse

  13. Mania Post author

    Dmouse: The best advice I have for you is to look at it in terms of experience. Kill level 66′s for, say, 10 minutes and see how much XP your pet makes, then try it with level 70′s and compare. It really depends a lot on how fast you can kill each level (including downtime in between).

    And that’s interesting about being mounted in the areana. I hadn’t heard that.

  14. Steve Lauff


    While in a battle my tiger left me. The tool bar vanished also. Does this mean it abandoned me. I had just fed it and it’s bar was still smiling. How do I get it back or can I?


  15. Mania

    First thing to try is using the Call Pet skill. That will either call your pet back or give you a useful error message. If it says your pet is dead, then you need to cast Revive Pet. If it says you don’t have a pet to summon, then it may be that your pet ran away. Normally it wouldn’t do that if it’s been fed, but perhaps something weird has happened. So at that point I would try relogging and then casting Call Pet again — relogging will sometimes fix little weirdnesses. If you still can’t call your pet, you might try contacting a GM and seeing if they can help.

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