There's a special place in my heart for the relatively few quested pets in the game; they're almost always associated with eccentric and interesting quest lines. Moreover, there's something heartwarming about a tiny pet that wants to come with you on your adventures after you've spent some time with it. I chose to include reputation pets here too, because -- well, odds are good you're going to be doing more than a few quests on your journey to obtain a reputation pet.
If you do nothing else, do the quest chain in Northern Stranglethorn (see notes below) that sets up the storyline for the heroic version of Zul'Gurub. This is seriously one of the best little stories of Cataclysm, and not one that's gotten a lot of fanfare.
- Alliance Balloon/Horde Balloon Truly one of the game's funniest additions of late, the balloon is a reward from the quest Blown Away (Alliance)/Blown Away (Horde) in Stormwind or Orgrimmar respectively. The quest only requires that you be level 10 or higher and just involves a bit of running around the city, so this is really one of the earliest noncombat pets to which you'll have access. Bonus points if you screenshot yourself on top of a raid boss' corpse with a balloon.
- Blue Mini Jouster or Gold Mini Jouster Reward from Egg Wave in Mount Hyjal. These are cute as the dickens, but regrettably, you'll only have the opportunity to pick one of the two. EDIT: Commenters have brought it to my attention that this is no longer accurate. As of patch 4.2, completing the daily Vigilance on Wings 10 times will award you the achievement The 'Unbeatable?' Pterodactyl: BEATEN and the other jouster pet. I'm not sure how I missed this in the patch notes, but I'm glad it's there all the same. Thanks to the commenters who pointed this out!
- Brazie's Sunflower Seeds Rewarded by Lawn of the Dead (ha ha, Blizzard) in the Hillsbrad Foothills. This is WoW's take on Plants vs. Zombies -- which is to say, Peacebloom vs. Ghouls -- and it's a very funny take at that. The sunflower pet is voiced by Laura Shigihara of PvZ fame and you basically have no excuse for not having it, aside from possibly just being a bad person.
- Chicken Egg This is actually one of the oldest quested pets in the game, although for a long time it was only directly available to Alliance players. (Hordies could grab one, but they needed to enlist Alliance support. Obviously this was not an encouraging prospect on PvP servers.) Fortunately, CLUCK! can now be completed by everyone, as the Special Chicken Feed involved can be purchased from Farmer Saldean in Westfall (Alliance) or William Saldean in Brill (Horde). How do you get started on the quest? Create a /chicken macro, target a nearby chicken, and start spamming. Your new chicken buddy will become a questgiver very shortly and request some special feed, so -- for the sake of convenience -- you'll probably want to do this quest close to the feed vendors in either Westfall or Brill.
- Cobra Hatchling, Tickbird Hatchling, White Tickbird Hatchling, and Proto-Drake Whelp These can be spawned by the Mysterious Eggs you can purchase from the Oracles quartermaster Geen at revered. However, because they're BOE, you're likely to find them on the Auction House as well, and they tend to be (relatively) cheap. They're definitely more expensive than they used to be (during Wrath, everyone was desperate to unload the 877th tickbird they'd gotten in pursuit of the Green Proto-Drake), but they're still not likely to break the bank.
- Crimson Lasher Sold by Ayla Shadowstorm at the Molten Front after you've completed Filling the Moonwell.
- Hyjal Bear Cub Sold by Varlan Highbough at the Molten Front after you've completed Calling the Ancients.
- Jubling This is the end result of a quest available at the Darkmoon Faire from Morja, a female Orc NPC. It's called Spawn of Jubjub and is only available if you toss a Dark Iron Ale Mug (pick them up in the Grim Guzzler, the Blackrock Depths bar) at her feet, bringing her own jubling to a halt. Bring at least two mugs with you: One to start the quest, and then anothe to complete it.
- Lashtail Hatchling This is -- hands down -- one of the best pets in the game, and featured in one of the best quest series. While she's technically a reward from An Old Friend in Zul'Gurub, you won't have access to her at all unless you've completed a low-level quest series in Northern Stranglethorn. For Alliance, the chain to reach this quest starts with Bad Medicine: For Horde, it starts with The Defense of Grom'Gol: Raptor Risk. Bottom line: You do a quest series in your late 20s, and then at 85 rescue the little raptor that helped you and got trapped in Zul'Gurub. I did this on the Cataclysm beta more than a year ago before Blizzard had resolved the storyline by introducing the new Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub, and always worried about what happened to Ohgan'aka. Dammit, who's cutting onions in here?
- Mechanical Chicken This, too, is one of the better noncombat pets, although An OOX of Your Own will only become available from Oglethorpe Obnoticus in Booty Bay after you've completed a series of three "Find and help the mechanical chicken" quests in the Hinterlands, Feralas, and Tanaris. Not sure which ones you've done, if any? Try this.
- Miniwing A traditional favorite from Outland, and rewarded by Skywing in Terokkar Forest.
- Nether Ray Fry Sold by the Skyguard quartermaster Grella after you've gotten to exalted with the Sha'tari Skyguard.
- Panther Cub Rewarded by Some Good Will Come (Alliance)/Some Good Will Come (Horde), and one of the few ingame acknowledgments of the swathe of destruction your character leaves in its wake on the average day. You killed its parents -- the least you can do is take care of it.
- Rustberg Gull (Alliance)/Rustberg Gull (Horde) Once you reach honored with your respective Tol Barad faction, you should be able to purchase these very cool-looking seagulls for 50 Tol Barad Commendations.
- Tiny Flamefly How did I miss this? I have yet to have a character go through the revamped Burning Steppes, but it looks like it's a quest reward from SEVEN! YUP! (Alliance) or Not Fireflies, Flameflies (Horde). Unfortunately, that's all I know about it at present. Off to go take an alt through the Burning Steppes.
- Tiny Sporebat Honestly, this one little pet is really the whole point of getting to exalted with the Sporeggar. Not only do you have to get to exalted, but you'll have to pick up 30 Glowcaps from around Zangarmarsh before you can buy it. The Sporeggar deal only in mushrooms.
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