In an increasingly connected world where replying to work e-mail while in bed is becoming a norm, many people hardly have time for themselves, much less a pet.
If you have always wanted a critter for your home, but cannot adopt a real animal, getting a virtual one for your smartphone might help make that dream come true.
The history of virtual pets goes back almost two decades, when the famous Tamagotchi made its debut in 1996.
Today, virtual pet apps pack many more features compared with their egg-shaped predecessor, with better graphics and multiplayer modes among the new additions.
Here are four fun apps featuring a small zoo of virtual pets to keep you company while you reply to those urgent office e-mail messages in the dead of night.
Jasmine Osada is a freelance writer.
Tamagotchi Classic, $4.98 (Android and iOS)
The famous egg that launched the virtual pet craze is still around - the difference is, you can now house a Tamagotchi on your smartphone.
Featuring the same cute alien-like pets, Tamagotchi Classic is the same lovable game with extra modern-day perks.
As with the original, the egg you adopt hatches into a pea-shaped creature. Once you get your new pet, you will have to feed it, clean its living quarters and play simple games with it to keep it happy and healthy.
There are two gameplay options, a Toy Mode and an App Mode. Toy Mode is essentially a digital version of the original Tamagotchi toy, complete with LED pixel graphics and virtual push buttons.
App mode is an updated version of the game in full colour. This update lets you collect new types of Tamagotchi and wallpaper to decorate your virtual pet's play area as you progress through the game.
If you want a cute virtual pet that does not take too much time and effort, a Tamagotchi might just be it.