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Stray Animal Story

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Stories about domestic animals who lack owners

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Oct 9th 2013 at 10:00:13 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Nov 17th 2017 at 6:58:29 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

So you want to have a story about pet Partially Civilized Animals and Nearly Normal Animals? You want them to go on adventures and run around without much issue but how can you do this if they're a pet? Pets have owners to come home to, if they're even allowed to leave their houses.

Simple: Make them feral or stray animals (domesticated animals without human owners) note 

They don't need elaborate excuses to leave their owners, it won't seem weird how you rarely mention their owner, and they can do whatever they please unless the Diabolical Dog Catcher or some other antagonistic human comes along. You can even give feral animals their own societies, religions, and beliefs created due to their lack of human supervision.

This trope is a general staple of Xenofiction. It can be seen as the animal equivalent of Conveniently an Orphan. Sometimes the protagonist will go From Stray to Pet at the end, though it's even more common for the main characters to start as pets who became strays (instead of being born feral).


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin starts out about a boy and his dog, Gin. Less than ten episodes into the series Gin runs off to be with a pack of feral dogs and the series' focus turns to him.
  • Free Collars Kingdom is about the adventures of a group of stray cats who've been either abandoned or abused by their owners to the point that they ran away.

Fan Works

  • A significant amount of Pokémon fanworks about the Pokemon themselves revolve around wild Pokemon, usually in a forest environment.

Film — Animation

  • There are some implications that the goats in Arashi no Yoru ni are domestic goats, such as Mei owning a scarf and the fact that they live near an abandoned barn.
  • Chirin from Ringing Bell is a farm lamb that runs off to get revenge for his mother after a wolf kills her.
  • Leafie, a Hen into the Wild is about a factory farm hen who manages to escape. Leafie tries to home with the farmers more well-kept chickens however they refuse to have a hen like her around. Leafie ends up living by the local lake and raises a duckling. Somewhat deconstructed as by the end Leafie is noticeably sick and aging, even taking into accord chicken lifespans. She's not suited for the wild and likely would have died soon even without her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure is about Lady's and Tramp's only son Scamp, who hates being a pet and wants to be a stray. He escapes his home, befriends a female puppy named Angel with the opposite views from him, and hangs out with a group of strays. Ultimately he decides being a pet is best and goes back home.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is about a feral stallion who is captured by humans. They try to tame him but ultimately fail to. In the end Spirit returns to the wild along with his mate, who was presumably born into captivity.

Film — Live Action

  • The film It's a Dog's Life is the life story of a Bull Terrier told from his point of view. He goes from the streets of the Bowery to the lap of luxury.
  • The Benji series stars the titular stray dog.

Literature

  • Tailchaser's Song is about several communities of feral cats. They see "m'an" as unpredictable and dangerous. The main lead is a tom named Tailchaser who goes on an adventure.
  • Warrior Cats centers around entire societies of feral cats living in the wild and their interactions with each other/struggles against nature; the general consensus among the cats themselves is that Humans Are Cthulhu and should be avoided whenever possible. "Kittypets" in Warriors are looked down upon and some cats even consider them inferior. The series is considered the Spiritual Successor to Tailchaser's Song.
  • Survivor Dogs, which is written by writers using Erin Hunter's (the original writer of Warrior Cats) Pen Name, is about feral dogs. A "Lone Dog" named Lucky who was staying at a pound manages to escape after an earthquake. He soon learns that all humans have exacuated the area and left their pets behind. Lucky ultimately forms a pack with a group of ex-"Leashed Dogs".
  • Played with in Windrusher. Tony (or "Windrusher" as other animals call him) is abandoned by his humans and the plot revolves around him trying to get back to them.
  • The Call of the Wild is probably the Ur-Example. It is told from the perspective of a dog who becomes a sled dog during the Yukon gold rush, and begins to act increasingly feral as he fights off the other dogs. In the end, his last owner is killed and he joins a wolf pack.
  • Richard Adams' Watership Down chronicles the exodus of some rabbits from their home in Sandalford Warren, past many dangers, until they arrived at the solitary elm tree atop a knoll, called Watership Down. Early printings even had footnotes detailing lapine customs and psychology.
  • Men at Arms: One of the plotlines is a short, flatulent poodle preaching how awesome wolves are to dogs who've run away from home.
  • Varjak Paw is about a kitten who must leave his home and find a dog to protect his family after their owner dies.
  • In Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria, a group of cats are enclosed with protecting a library of mystical books from evil hands. It stars a pet cat named Marco who becomes homeless and comes across the descendants of the original cats. An elderly cat named Cicero decides to take Marco as his trainee so that he can become the next protector of an important book.
  • Stray by A.N. Wilson is a dark tale about a cat named Pufftail. It follows his life from a kitten to a grandfather. It shows Pufftail at different stages, from the various owners he's had to his time, being tested in a labratory, to his time on the streets.
  • The Dogs of the Drowned City series is about a German Shepherd named Shep. After a hurricane forces his human family to evacuate, Shep is forced to leave his home and venture out on his own. He ends up creating a pack with other dogs that he meets.
  • Catwings is about a stray city cat who gives birth to kittens who have wings.
  • The Tygrine Cat is about a stray cat named Mati who meets a group of street cats who live near a marketplace. Mati doesn't realize it at first but he's the last of an ancient, magical breed of cat who the Big Bad, a cat named Mithios, wants to kill in order to steal the spirits of all cats.
  • The Good Dog by Avi is about a Malamute named McKinley who meets a wolf named Lupin who is trying to persuade dogs to leave their owners and join her pack.
  • Doglands by Tim Willocks is about a half-Greyhound puppy named Furgul born into a camp for racing Greyhounds. He runs away after the abusive owner tries to kill him. Furgul ends up living on his own from thereon.
  • The Wild Road is about a pet kitten named Tag who begins having prophetic dreams. He leaves his home to go on a journey to fullfill the prophecies.
  • A Dog's Life is about a dog named Squirrel who was born in a shed. It goes into detail about her life as a feral dog from puppyhood to senior. She's ultimately taken in by an elderly woman and renamed "Addie". Unlike most examples, the story doesn't sugarcoat the life of a feral dog. Squirrel and the other dogs she meets are presented as suffering from malnutrition and frequent illness. Squirrel is constantly moving around and she gets into several fights with other starving dogs.
  • Varjak Paw is about a pampered pet kitten who is forced to venture outside in order to save his family. Varjak must learn to adapt to living on the streets. He ends up befriending several strays and also gets into trouble with a local gang of cats.

Live-Action TV

Theatre

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Top Cat is an animated show starring a gang of Funny Animal stray cats.
  • In his old cartoons, Pluto would often be seen as either Mickey Mouse's pet or as a stray, but he would always have his collar on.
  • The cartoon Foofur was about a group of stray animals (six dogs and a cat) living in the house previously owned by Foofur's owner.

Feedback: 28 replies

Oct 9th 2013 at 5:07:26 PM

Note that in the contexts of pet/animal ownership the word "feral" specifically means 'formerly domesticated' and is not used for wild animals in general.

Oct 10th 2013 at 3:53:36 AM

So it's about domestic animals running into the wild?

Would Madagascar (first movie, at least) count? The quartet (note: not the penguins) are wild animals in a zoo who wants to experience wilderness. Then they get it... in Madagascar. (long story.)

Oct 10th 2013 at 7:46:04 AM

As far as fiction about domestic animals going into the wild/becoming feral, Call Of The Wild would seem to be the ur-example.

Oct 10th 2013 at 10:20:08 AM

I wouldn't say Madagascar counts as they're wild animals raised in captivity, not domesticated animals without owners.

May 24th 2014 at 8:44:31 PM

^ But starting in the second film, they're feral.

May 25th 2014 at 9:27:25 PM

  • The Littlest Hobo is about a stray German Shepard which is Walking The Earth going from Adventure Town to town.
  • The film It's a Dog's Life is the life story of a bull terrier told from his point of view. He goes from the streets of the Bowery to the lap of luxury.

May 25th 2014 at 9:39:17 PM

@Trust Ben: That's still a Zero Context Example.

  • Call Of The Wild is probably the Ur Example. It is told from the perspective of a dog who becomes a sled dog during the Yukon gold rush, and begins to act increasingly feral as he fights off the other dogs. In the end, his last owner is killed and he joins a wolf pack.

May 25th 2014 at 10:48:16 PM

Can the feral animal be a secondary character?

Jun 1st 2014 at 2:43:09 PM

Top Cat is an animated show starring a gang of stray cats.

Sep 24th 2014 at 6:58:48 PM

Literature

  • Richard Adams' Watership Down chronicles the exodus of some rabbits from their home in Sandalford Warren, past many dangers, until they arrived at the solitary elm tree atop a knoll, called Watership Down. Early printings even had footnotes detailing lapine customs and psychology.

Dec 12th 2015 at 3:51:29 PM

Add Madagascar example plz.

Dec 12th 2015 at 8:02:23 PM

Nah, those are wild animals.

Dec 12th 2015 at 9:50:02 PM

Wild animals are completely different from domesticated ones.

Dec 13th 2015 at 12:15:53 AM

^ ah yeah, forgot about that.

Apr 21st 2016 at 9:48:00 PM

Though, are domesticated animals and "wild animals raised in captivity" functionally the same for this trope?

Btw we have a Raised In Captivity ykttw to compare to.

Apr 21st 2016 at 11:24:07 PM

^^ No. Domestic animals are domestic for a reason. A dog living on its own and a pet wolf being released into the wild are incomparable and are completely different tropes.

Apr 22nd 2016 at 7:15:18 AM

  • In his old cartoons, Pluto would often be seen as either Mickey Mouse's pet or as a stray, but he would always have his collar on.

Apr 22nd 2016 at 7:34:48 AM

^The only time Pluto is a stray is on the Silly Symphony short "Just Dogs". All other times he was explicitly or implicitly someone's pet, even if it wasn't Mickey.

May 3rd 2016 at 9:35:27 AM

  • Warrior Cats centers around entire societies of feral cats living in the wild and their interactions with each other/struggles against nature; the general consensus among the cats themselves is that Humans Are Cthulhu and should be avoided whenever possible.

Jul 1st 2016 at 7:43:09 AM

^ I will once either one gets out of YKTTW.

Jul 1st 2016 at 9:12:31 AM

Anime And Manga

  • Free Collars Kingdom is about the adventures of a group of stray cats who've been either abandoned or abused by their owners to the point that they ran away.

Jul 26th 2016 at 7:43:27 AM

Western Animation

  • The cartoon Foofur was about a group of stray animals (six dogs and a cat) living in the house previously owned by Foofur's owner.

May 19th 2017 at 3:09:50 PM

What's the difference of this and A Pet Into the Wild?

May 19th 2017 at 3:17:30 PM

^ A Pet Into The Wild is a sub-trope.

Sep 27th 2017 at 11:38:38 AM

Should this be an index?

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