Pets in the game in my opinion are just cute filler. So why have the eating mechanic for them at all? As is; it is poorly implemented, would be cool for them to eat wild plants and the like but that is obviously more coding which I know is not going to come from the dev’s. On the other hand just removing the unnecessary eat mechanic seems quit doable. Compromise?
Or as an alternative, make it like in other games where they won’t die of starvation but won’t be happy enough to socialise either. So if you want all those boops and nuzzles in order to boost your town’s morale, you do have to feed them; but if something breaks down and pets stop feeding (either through lack of food, or something like too little CPU to figure out how to feed anymore), then you don’t start losing pets left and right.
I like the idea of making the pets forage around for food. Randomly eating some grass or plant or - for carnivores - eating a small critter that spawns just for that (like the trapper’s area critters) sounds doable enough and relevant enough considering the amount of threads complaining about pets just by taking a look at the forums.
These extra AI actions and tidbits should probably be in ACE - especially if we do tackle the Animal Trainer as well.
To be fair the farm animals could do with some grazing aswell, maybe not in winter but I’ve always found it stupid as hell thst even when there is good grass you gotta feed em