A terrible plague
wipes out all
cats and dogs.
Everyone is very sad, but this pet-sized hole in all of our hearts has two potential ways to be filled. The first is the development of robot pets, which look and feel like actual dogs and cats, but they never shed or need to be walked or require you to spend anytime considering their bathroom needs. But they also have a unmistakeable mechanical quality that doesn’t quite feel the same. There’s no real sense of love or affection from these pet robots and the cost to keep their batteries charged is 5x what you would normally spend on treats and food.
The second option is the nearby Pet Sematary. The good news is that yours isn’t like the one in Stephen King’s novel, because the zombie animals it creates are just as loving and affectionate as they were when they were living and they don’t ever try to kill you. They do however smell really bad and no amount of shampoo, air spray or any other scent distraction device will ever change this. Also–though they aren’t evil and won’t ever try to eat you–they DO have to consume living flesh to survive, so you’ve got to store live rodents and such in order to keep them fed.
So, the choice comes to reasonable and house-friendly robots that ultimately seem more like toys than animals and smelly, living dead zombie pets that love you almost as much as they love eating live rats in front of you.