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Abandoned Pet In A Box

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An abandoned cute baby animal in a box on the curbside.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Ruise on Nov 23rd 2016 at 6:15:24 PM
Last Edited By:
Synchronicity on Apr 15th 2018 at 8:35:51 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

In many works of fiction, there comes a time when a character will be walking along when, suddenly, they see a cardboard box on the side of the road. Inside said box is inevitably an abandoned Cute Kitten or Precious Puppy, left by an irresponsible pet owner, just begging to be taken home. For some reason, they never seem to leave the box even if the cats, especially, could jump out easily.

A kind passerby will react with sympathy for the abandoned animals and may even adopt them; more callous characters will ignore them or mistreat them outright. The animals themselves may or may not get adopted; luckier ones find their forever homes on the sidewalk while less fortunate puppies and kittens may often have to go through further hardships before finding their happy endings.

A popular method of introducing a Loyal Animal Companion. Sister trope to From Stray to Pet and Doorstop Baby. See also Girl in a Box, which uses boxes to introduce a likely major character.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In one episode of Doraemon, Doraemon helps Nobita secretly care for a box of puppies/kittens. After some time travel and thought process acceleration, the two returned to find that the dogs and cats became humanoid, gained the ability to talk, and built a sophisticated civilization with high technology. Apparently, the now-humanoid dogs and cats have decided to leave the Earth to another planet because they've predicted that the Earth will be facing a world-wide disaster.
  • Massugu ni Ikou: In episode 4, Mametarou and Hanako come across a puppy in a box. They end up acting as Parental Substitutes until it is taken home by a girl.
  • Sakamoto from Nichijou. Nano has no choice but to leave him behind when he first finds the cat in a box, only to find him again at home courtesy of the professor.
  • Kicks off the plot of Nukoduke. In the first chapter, Yuuya found Kei and Sasame abandoned in a box on the street, and decided to adopt them.
  • In the "Go West Young Meowth" episode of Pokémon, it's shown that Meowth was abandoned as a kitten in a nest. He grew up on the streets with no parents, gang, or trainer.

    Comic Books 
  • This is the backstory for a Dex-Starr/Dexter, a cat that joins the Red Lanterns in Green Lantern. Dexter & his siblings are shown in a box labelled "FREE" on the day of Dexter's adoption. When his adopted owner is killed in a home invasion, Dexter is thrown into the street and nearly drowned by two thugs who throw him into the river - at which point he is recruited into the Red Lanterns and becomes Dex-Starr.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Dashie: A man finds a filly Rainbow Dash and takes her home.
  • This trope is what kicks off the plot in the Homestuck fanfiction Unwanted Free Ugly Troll: in an AU where trolls are kept as pets, Dave finds Karkat abandoned in a cardboard box and ends up adopting him.

    Film - Animated 
  • In the sequel to Balto, Balto and Jenna's puppies are given away in a box. One of them however doesn't get adopted because her looks betray her wolf-dog heritage.
  • Inverted in Mr. Peabody & Sherman; the canine Peabody found the human Sherman as a baby inside a cardboard box in an alley.
  • Oliver & Company opens with a box full of kittens being sold on a Manhattan sidewalk. All the kittens are sold except for one - our hero, Oliver - who is callously left in the box on the rain.
  • In Rio, Blu the macaw was discovered by Linda in a box on the side of the road.

    Literature 

    Film - Live Action 
  • This is Riley's backstory in Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. The boy he was bought as a present for didn't want him, so the parents left Riley in the gutter. Unlike many examples, Riley is not adopted by a kind passerby; he becomes a street dog with a deep distrust of humans.

    Video Games 
  • The children mobile game Little Kitten - My Favourite Cat is about a kitten abandoned in a box that gets into a house and is adopted, the game is about to pet and play with the kitty (called as Crumbs) in an interactive house.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In We Bare Bears, when the bears are still cubs, they try to find a family by sitting in a cardboard box with "Free Bears" written on it.

Feedback: 26 replies

Nov 24th 2016 at 6:31:23 AM

Oliver And Company opens with a box full of kittens being sold on a Manhattan sidewalk. All the kittens are sold except for one - our hero, Oliver - who is callously left in the box on the rain.

Nov 24th 2016 at 6:36:21 AM

  • Capitalized the title.
  • Created Examples section.

Nov 24th 2016 at 11:31:04 PM

Inverted in Mr Peabody And Sherman; Peabody found Sherman as a baby inside a cardboard box in an alley.

Nov 25th 2016 at 7:55:19 AM

  • This is Riley's backstory in Homeward Bound: Lost in San Francisco. The boy he was bought as a present for didn't want him, so the parents left Riley in the gutter. Unlike many examples, Riley is not adopted by a kind passerby; he becomes a street dog with a deep distrust of humans.

Dec 3rd 2016 at 11:30:38 PM

Comic Example: This is the backstory for a Dex-Starr/ Dexter, a cat that joins the Red Lanterns. Dexter & his siblings are shown in a box labelled "FREE" on the day of Dexter's adoption. When his adopted owner is killed in a home invasion, Dexter is thrown into the street and nearly drowned by two thugs who throw him into the river - at which point he is recruited into the Red Lanterns and becomes Dex-Starr.

Feb 11th 2017 at 1:59:45 PM

  • In the "Go West Young Meowth" episode of Pokemon, it's shown that Meowth was abandoned as a kitten in a nest. He grew up on the streetz with no parents, gang, or trainer.
  • In the sequel to Balto, Balto and Jenna's puppies are given away in a box. One of them however doesn't get adopted because her looks betray her wolf-dog heritage.

Feb 11th 2017 at 2:56:54 PM

My Little Dashie : A man finds a filly Rainbow Dash and takes her home.

Feb 12th 2017 at 3:58:17 PM

Light Novels:

Feb 13th 2017 at 6:01:33 AM

Sphynx, Index's cat, from A Certain Magical Index: Sphynx in the box where it was found. Unknown sex/gender. It's adopted by Index.

Feb 13th 2017 at 8:04:58 AM

Feb 13th 2017 at 10:13:26 AM

Fanfiction

  • This trope is what kicks off the plot in the Homestuck fanfiction Unwanted Free Ugly Troll: in an AU where trolls are kept as pets, Dave finds Karkat abandoned in a cardboard box and ends up adopting him.

Feb 14th 2017 at 12:53:47 AM

  • Kicks off the plot of Nukoduke. In the first chapter, Yuuya found Kei and Sasame abandoned in a box on the street, and decided to adopt them.

Feb 17th 2017 at 2:14:47 PM

Sakamoto from Nichijou. Nano has no choice but to leave him behind, only to find him again at home courtesy of the professor.

Mar 15th 2017 at 8:17:59 PM

In one episode of: Doraemon, where Nobita finds a box of puppies/kittens and try to take care of them in his house, helped by Doraemon; he has to do it in secret because his mother is zoophobic. Eventually, the two was forced to go back to the prehistoric ages with their time machine and put the dogs and cats there, along with a special gadget that accelerates their thought process' evolution. After some time, the two went back again to check their situation, only to find that not only the dogs and kittens become humanoid, can talk, and have adopted a culture close to humans, they have built a sophisticated civilization with high technology. Apparently, the now-humanoid dogs and cats have decided to leave the Earth to another planet because they've predicted that the Earth will be facing a world-wide disaster.

That's... kinda too long, I think?

Mar 22nd 2018 at 1:58:46 PM

Mar 22nd 2018 at 1:47:08 PM

In the first book of the All American Pups series, New Pup on the Block, the others meet Rosie when her box is tossed out of a moving car.

Mar 22nd 2018 at 11:35:02 PM

Added examples, with some editing and trimming. I'm surprised we don't have this as well — might grab the draft.

Mar 25th 2018 at 10:39:19 PM

  • In Western Animation/Rio , Blu was discovered by Linda in a box on the side of the road.

Apr 5th 2018 at 10:58:11 AM

The current name is okay, but I think I have something better. I suggest changing the name to Abandoned Pet In A Box.

Apr 6th 2018 at 7:43:42 AM

Video Games:

  • The children mobile game Little Kitten - My Favourite Cat is about a kitten abandoned in a box that gets into a house and is adopted, the game is about to pet and play with the kitty (called as Crumbs) in an interactive house.

Apr 10th 2018 at 1:56:36 AM

Good point. Name change ahoy.

Will launch this in a few days if there are no objections. Last call for examples!

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