I'll admit, I chose the hunter class for the pet. There was just something magical about the thought of adventuring with my trusty companion at my side. One of the things I am the most excited to see in Cataclysm is the stable expansion. I just can't get enough fuzzy little creatures!
But hunters are not the only ones with trusty companions. No, I don't mean Warlocks with their back-talking demons, nor Mages with their sloshy water elementals. No! Not even Shaman, Druids, Shadow Priests or Death Knights. (Hunters are still the "pet class" ... right?)
No, I say! The critters! Sure, they're weak and cower at the sight of an aggressive monster, but they're there! They're at our sides! They go good on toast!
Just for fun
I am of course talking about the massive amount of non-combat pets currently available in the game. Of the various collectibles in the game, non-combat pets are some of the most diverse and difficult to obtain; especially with many of the pets only available at the various real-world events Blizzard hosts. At a grand total of 158 pets you can spend a long, long time collecting these pets, but after the first "OMG where did you get THAT! /jealous" you'll be hooked.
Where to start
Every avid pet collector should start at Warcraft Pets. Run by an adorable little female Gnome named Breanni, this is a one-stop resource for both building and keeping track of your collections. She also keeps us up to date on the latest and greatest in the world of pet collecting in her news and updates section.
With the first achievement reward (an adorable little skunk!) at 50 pets, beginning your collection can be daunting. Luckily you can buy quite a few pets from vendors. Nearly every race has at least one pet for sale in their home town, the exceptions of course being Trolls and Gnomes, as they do not have a home town. There are rumors of new racial pets for these two races in Cataclysm, but there are none in the live game at this time.
Below are the vendors for the various races. You'll want to note that you of course cannot buy the opposite factions' pets yourself, but they are often on both the normal and Neutral Auction Houses. Or, if you have a friend willing to help, you can log on to a character of the opposite faction, buy them, then use the Neutral Auction House to make the swap. You can't buy the auctions out yourself, but this is what the friend is for!
Ironforge - Technically this cute little bunny is found in Dun Morogh
Stormwind - These kitties can actually be found in Elwynn Forest, sold by the Crazy Cat Lady
Darnassus - Here you'll find couple of owls, sold by the Owl Trainer
The Exodar - Fluttery and colorful, you can purchase the moths from Sixx the Moth Keeper
Orgrimmar - It could be argued that these snakes are actually the Troll pet.
Undercity - It figures the undead would have a roach for a companion.
Thunder Bluff - Our tall Tauren teammates will sell you a puny prairie pup. (Mmmm, alliteration.)
Silvermoon - Not precisely in Silvermoon, you can add Dragonhawks to your collection in Eversong Woods.
With a bit of running (or maybe a handy mage), a little gold and maybe a buddy, your collection quickly goes from 0 to 17. You may notice that some of the links I provided contain pets I didn't mention. Some are also from vendors, such as the red moth, but are harder to acquire at a lower level without help. From here I recommend you begin picking up pet from the other, scattered vendors, scour the auction house and begin setting up shop in some of the drop locations for the rarer pets. You'll soon find yourself with a collection to be envied.
Oh, and say hi to Breanni in Dalaran. She's a great resource for pet collecting, both in and out of the game!