Heffer: Heffer?! Is that even my real name?!
Peter: Dad used to call you "steak".
Sometimes, people raise animals (or plants, or people, or whatever) with the intention of eating them afterwards, only for them to come to view them as a pet or child. In certain circumstances, this can even extend to Anthropomorphic Food. The reason for this can vary, but it usually boils down to one of the following:
- The potential meal proves too cute to eat (especially if it's a baby).
- They prove to have a skill that is novel or useful.
- Simple long-term exposure.
Note that this only applies to animals that were raised with the intention of being eaten, not animals that are normally eaten that people specifically choose to raise as a pet. If someone forms a relationship with an animal that's already cooked and ready to eat, that belongs to the trope Companion Food.
Compare with Predator Turned Protector and contrast with Eat the Dog. See also Let's Meet the Meat. See Housepet Pig for a specific kind of livestock animal that may sometimes be kept as a pet instead of its normal purpose as food.
- Cage of Eden. One girl declares that a turtle she found will be dinner, leading to a discussion on how turtle meat is prepared. The girl admits that she was joking, and lets the turtle go... only for it to be revealed later on that she kept the turtle on a leash.
- Chainsaw Man. Power initially plans to fatten and eat a stray cat that she found, but decides to keep it as a pet after getting attached to it and named it Meowy.
- Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Fujiwara procures a fish to help Shirogane overcome his fear of touching them so he won't embarrass himself when they make fillets in Home Economics. However, constantly taking care of it leads her to view it as a pet.
Fujiwara: This is my baby! You can't eat him!
- Sodom and Gomorra from One Piece had originally been found inside a Sea King that the Franky Family was eating. They saved them for later (since they were all full), but eventually came to view them as Team Pets.
- Subverted in Silver Spoon; When Haticken declares that he wants to buy Butadon, Fuji-sensei initially thinks he wants to keep Butadon as a pet due to how attached he's been to the pig and starts pointing out how that would be difficult, if not impossible, for a high-schooled student like him. That's when Hachiken specifies he wants to buy the meat that Butadon will be turned into once he's slaughtered because he wants to show that he accepts that this is how meat is produced.
- This trope is what sets the latter half of You Are Umasou into motion. Heart the Tyrannosaurus rex stated his intention of eating the titular baby Ankylosaurus as soon as he saw him hatch from his egg (even Umasou's name means "delicious" in Japanese), but the baby imprints on him and regards him as his father. Heart still considers eating him even after having to take care of him for a while, but ultimately he just can't resist the little guy.
- This is the basis of the Trolls de Troy comic-book Spin-Off from Lanfeust. Waha is a young human girl who was "accidentally" adopted by man-eating trolls who took her as a baby, planning to eat her but always pushing it for later (because she was too small a morsel), and finally starting to consider her a daughter. In the Animated Adaptation, the scatterbrained trolls don't even remember she was adopted to begin with and fully consider her a troll (albeit a hairless one).
- A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fic, Favors of Fate, interprets that in the versions where Splinter was originally a rat, he actually intended to later eat the turtles when he first found them (which is what an actual rat would do), but their eventual mutation prevented that and lead to him raising them instead.
- The Pixar short Bao, which was a tie-in for Incredibles 2, has a Chinese-Canadian mother suffering from empty nest syndrome. One day she makes a dumpling that ends up coming to life. She ends up raising the dumpling as a child, caring for it and watching it grow each day. However, she starts being an excessively overbearing mom as the dumpling son enters his rebellious teenage years. Eventually, the dumpling son comes home and introduces a girl to his mother with the intention of moving out and marrying her, which the mother forbids due to her being white. After a struggle in trying to get him to stay, she eats the dumpling son in anger, but is immediately horrified over what she did. Soon after the mother's real son returns and his appearance resembles the dumpling, revealing the whole sequence was a dream she was having. He then apologizes to his mother and offers her the same treat she had offered the dumpling, leading the two of them to make-up and the mother accepting her daughter-in-law.
- Attempted in Storks when the Alpha and Beta wolves fall in love with Diamond Destiny after intending to eat her. Tulip and Junior prevent them from actually adopting her, though.
Alpha: This tiny thing is now a wolf!
- Played straight in Tappy Toes, with the two skua birds stealing a penguin egg with the intent cook up a perfect poached egg - until it hatches into an adorable baby penguin. The baby penguin proves too cute to eat, so they name it "Pingo" and raise Pingo as their own.
- Somewhat similar to the Charlotte's Web example, Babe is a pig who's being raised for Christmas dinner until he proves his worth as a "sheep-pig" instead, scaring off sheep-rustlers and proving he can herd sheep just as well as Farmer Hoggett's aging sheepdogs.
- Happens in The Beautician and the Beast when Fran Drescher's character asks for fresh chicken meat; she's given a live chicken, which she ends up adopting as a pet because she can't bring herself to kill the chicken.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Yondu claims that young Peter Quill was supposed to be dinner for his crew before he intervened and raised him like a son, as a way of guilt-tripping Quill into doing things for him. It later turns out that Yondu actually took Peter in order to bring him to his father, but grew to care about the boy and worried that if he delivered him to Ego, he would die, as most of Ego's children had.
- Zigzagged in the Madeline movie where Madeline wants to keep a chicken named Fred as a pet but Helene the cook wants to kill and cook him instead and adds that the boarding school that Madeline and the other eleven girls attend does not allow pets. When Madeline comes to dinner and finds (presumably) Fred dead and roasted, she decides to become vegetarian and the other girls (except Vicky) follow suit.
- In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Pepe plays Toto. The reason for Toto being a prawn instead of a dog is explained as Dorothy not being allowed a dog, so she rescued a prawn from the diner.
- In the children's classic Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, runt of the litter Wilbur the pig is saved twice over, first by farm girl Fern and later by a sympathetic spider named Charlotte, who weaves praise for the young pig into her web, sparing him so that he can grow up to be a prizewinning show-pig.
- In Junie B. Jones, the title character's class is having a Pet Day. The children are forbidden from taking any pets bigger than chickens to school, but pictures of those pets are allowed. However, Junie B. still wants to bring an actual pet and not pictures of her dog Tickle. After a few failed attempts at finding a portable pet, Junie B. eventually decides to bring a fish stick, which she names "Fish Stick". Her teacher checks the dictionary entry for "pet", and approves of her choice.
- In Martin's Mice, Martin the cat has never liked catching mice, so when he catches one, named Drusilla, he keeps her (and her eight babies) as pets instead.
- In The Shahnameh, Zal was abandoned as a baby (he was an albino, which was taken as a bad omen). The Simurgh took him to her nest in order to feed the family, but then decided to adopt him.
- In The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks, Sister becomes attached to Squanto, the turkey Farmer Ben is raising for the Bear family's Thanksgiving dinner. In the end, Mama and Papa let her keep him in a pen as a pet, and serve honey-baked salmon for Thanksgiving instead.
- In the children's book The Carp in the Bathtub, two Jewish children, Leah and Harry, become attached to "Joe," the carp their mother bought for her Passover gefilte fish. They try to save him, but unlike most other examples of this trope, Joe is eventually killed and eaten. Afterwards the kids' father gives them a pet cat, which they also name Joe, and from then on they never eat gefilte fish again.
- Septimus Heap: When Jenna goes back in time, she attends a banquet where live ducklings are served. Horrified, she sneaks her duckling out with her and it ends up coming back to the future, where her mom Sarah adopts it as a pet.
- Megumin in Konosuba had very little to eat growing up and only took in her cat Chomusuke so she could make a meal out of her if the need arose. She would eventually grow fond of it and make it her familiar.
- In Beware of Chicken The pigs Chunky/Chun Ke and Peppa/Pi Pa were originally intended to be raised as food however they were accidentally uplifted into Spirit Beasts due to eating qi-infused food. When Jin finds out he's a bit disgruntled because he wants his pork dinner eventually but gets over it and the pigs become part of the family.
- In the ALF episode, "Live and Let Die", when Lucky, the Tanner family's pet cat dies, ALF is upset over the Tanners not letting him eat Lucky, so he decides to adopt a litter of kittens with the intent to eat them. However, when one of the kittens grows fond of ALF, ALF can't bear to eat him, and decides to adopt him into the Tanner family as Lucky II.
- Off the Map: Mina ends up with a chicken who she names Dinner because she intends to cook and eat it, but she ends up waiting too long and keeps it as a pet. When it lays an egg and it hatches, she calls the chick Appetizer.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Thanksgiving Turkey", Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton save money by buying a live turkey. Miss Brooks quickly grows fond of the turkey, and refuses to help Mr. Boynton and Walter Denton kill her.
- During one sidequest in Mega Man Legends 2, a girl asks for a pig. The moment you deliver one to her, she expresses interest in making bacon out of it. However, the next time you talk to her, she admits she couldn't bring herself to eat it like she planned because of how cute it was and decided to keep it as a Housepet Pig.
- A substory in Yakuza 0 has Kiryu trying for a turkey (3 strikes in a row) at bowling to win an actual turkey to eat. When he wins it, it turns out the bird is still alive, and also a chicken, not a turkey. The bowling receptionist offers to take it to the back and cook it, but Kiryu instead decides to keep the chicken and name it Nugget. It also joins him as a real estate manager.
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Ichiban finds a Japanese crawfish crawling on a bridge in one substory, and throws it into the river, thinking he's helping it. Then a homeless guy runs up to him, crying, because that crawfish was his pet, Nancy-chan. This causes Ichiban to go off on a quest to find her and return her. Turns out, the homeless guy was keeping her as a pet to fatten her up before making her into a meal, but Ichiban, horrified at the thought of Nancy-chan being eaten (the homeless guy was actually going to share her with Ichiban), trades him a premium sushi plate for her, at which point she becomes a Poundmate that he can summon in battle. The sequel Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth shows that Ichiban has since adopted Nancy as an actual pet.
- In Final Fantasy IX, it's revealed that Vivi met his adoptive grandfather Quan after the latter accidentally reeled him in while fishing for food. Quan being a Qu, he intended to raise Vivi to eat him, but it fortunately never came to be before Quan passed away, with the reason implied to be because Quan took a shine to him.
- This is how you recruit a yoshi to your party in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Not that Mario ever intended to eat him, but the vendor of the hot dog stand at the Glitz Pit bought the yoshi's egg intending to whip up a "Southern Fried Egg Dog of Tastiness" with it. Once it began hopping around, however, he decided people typically don't like to eat things that move around and let Mario and his friends have it.
- NomnomNami's Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet has this as the premise, the main character Syrup finding a mysterious candy golem, later deciding to adopt her as a member of her candy shop.
- Played for Laughs in the Homestar Runner cartoon "Where's The Cheat." Homestar makes Marzipan a veggie burger and decorates it to have a little face. Upon delivering the sandwich to her, she decides that it's too cute to eat and starts treating it like a living thing. She even names it and interprets Homestar talking to her as the sandwich talking to her, much to Homestar's annoyance.
- One Ask Fluffle Puff animation has Fluffle bring to her home the "Foodies", a bunch of weird cat/food hybrid animals, much to Chryssi's confusion.
- Youmu purchased a cow to feed to Yuyuko in Life of Maid, but it proved too adorable to eat so they just kept it as a pet and source of milk.
- In a flashback, Ophelia (a gopher) of Kevin & Kell came upon the scene of a hawk attack where the parents had been taken but their personal effects and an egg had been left behind. Ophelia was ready to eat the egg until a chameleon hatched from it. For reasons unknown to even herself, she didn't eat the baby, but instead used the parents' left-behind money and phone (for how-to videos) to care for it. But since she lived a life on the run, Ophelia chose to annonymously drop the baby off at an adoption service. Bruno and Corrie later adopted that same baby, though the baby's origins were only revealed in-comic after the fact.
- In the Brentalfloss song "Baby Mario & Papa Yoshi", which is based on the Athletic theme from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi finds Baby Mario and expresses interest in eating him. However, he's too full, so he tries to give him to his friend, Yellow. When Yellow tells him that he's too sick to eat anything, Yoshi decides to keep and raise Baby Mario instead, as he's started to grow attached to the baby (plus the dirty diaper made him lose his appetite).
The moral of this fable is do not eat a baby,
Cause' he'll become your friend one day, maybe.
- On the Dream SMP, while building his holiday home away from L'Manburg, Tommy adopted three cows, Henry, Harold, and Harvey, because he got too attached to them before he could kill them for food. It's especially prominent in the latter two, as Tommy immediately refused to kill them after they stared at him in the eyes.
- Futurama: Zigzagged in "Fry Am the Eggman". Leela buys some fertilized eggs at the farmers' market, and Fry, realizing that the eggs have the potential to hatch into a living creature, decides not to eat his egg and let it hatch. And then he'll eat it. As time passes, however, Fry gets attached and decides to let the creature live instead. Then the egg falls on the floor and splatters, so Fry lets Zoidberg have what remains. However, the creature inside the egg actually survives, and Fry keeps it as a pet, despite it being very destructive.
- Garfield and Friends: In "Maine Course", Jon discovers the lobster his relatives sent to his door for him to cook via the "Lobster on Wings" service is still alive. No one in the Arbuckle house has the will to cook it, but the local aquarium won't take it, as they already have too many courtesy of other "Lobster on Wings" customers. He names the lobster "Therm" after the dish Lobster Thermidor, keeps him as a pet, and grows fond of him. But eventually it's noticed that Therm isn't feeling good and hasn't eaten since his arrival. Plane tickets are purchased and Jon, Garfield, and Odie release Therm at a beach in Maine, where he happily heads into the ocean.
- Gravity Falls: Mabel seems to make a habit of this.
- Gideon invites Mabel to a fancy restaurant to ask her to be his girlfriend. She's uncomfortable with the whole situation and, rather than eating the lobster, brings it home and puts it in a tank at the Mystery Shack.
- She later obtains her pet pig Waddles at a fair where she wins him by guessing his weight. The carny offers her a fork and knife, clearly intending Waddles to be dinner, but she waves him off.
- Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Subverted in Mute-Eat-Mute World". Wolf was raised by a pack of Newton wolves. She trains with them and, after a year, it appears that her adopted siblings and parents have accepted her as one of their own. However, it then turns out that she was just raised to be a final hunting test for the other pups. Only one of her adopted siblings hesitates to turn on her, truly considering her a sister, before relenting and saying that "we're wolves, you're a human".
- Subverted in Hey Arnold! episode The Journal where Arnold's pet Abner was a wedding present to his parents from the Green-Eyed People, Grampa mistakes Abner as dinner.
- Looney Tunes
- In the short, "A Mouse Divided", a drunken Delivery Stork delivers a baby mouse to Sylvester and his wife. While Sylvester's wife is happy to have a baby regardless if it's a mouse, Sylvester tries to eat the baby mouse at first despite his wife's objections. Sylvester soon becomes fond of the baby mouse when he calls him "Daddy", then protects him from the other cats who want to eat him.
- Sylvester ended up going through something similar to the above in Father of the Bird, only this time, it features a baby bird that had just hatched. Sylvester's attempts to keep the bird safe end up bringing harm to himself.
- Taken to extremes in The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "I Love Chicken", in which Stimpy falls in love with an uncooked chicken and decides to marry it, much to Ren's chagrin.
- Heffer from Rocko's Modern Life was raised by a family of wolves who had intended to fatten him up and eat him, but they came to love him as a son and passed off the markings for the various cuts of beef on his body as a "birthmark".
- In the Rugrats (1991) episode "The Turkey Who Came to Dinner", it is Thanksgiving and the store has run out of turkeys, so the adults send away for one but get a live one. The babies befriend the turkey, which the adults eventually think is too cute to let them kill it.
- In The Simpsons episode "Lisa Gets an 'A'", Homer buys a small lobster to raise in an attempt to avoid having to pay for a full-grown one (ignoring the fact that such a thing would be more expensive in the long run). He comes to view it as a pet he calls "Pinchy" and spoils it, but accidentally cooks it alive when it gets dirty and he makes it a hot bath. The episode ends with him tearfully eating the lobster, not letting his family have any, because "it's what Pinchy would have wanted".
- Star Wars Resistance: In the series premiere, "The Recruit", store owners Flix and Orka make a deal with protagonist Kaz for him to get them lunch in exchange for starship parts. They specifically request a gorg, a kind of small animal kept as food on the Colossus. Kaz gets a gorg, but it takes him longer than he'd planned, and Flix and Orka are already eating when he gets back with it, but they keep the deal anyways. As revealed in later episodes, especially "Dangerous Business", the duo decide to keep the gorg as their pet and name him "Bitey".
- Tom and Jerry: In the short "That's My Mommy", Tom steals an egg to cook it, but when he is about to fry it, a duckling comes out instead, and assumes Tom is his mother. Tom is still interested in eating the duckling, being stopped by Jerry in numerous attempts only for Quacker to run back to Tom despite Jerry's efforts to convince the duckling that Tom is not his mommy and is trying to eat him. In the final attempt, Quacker realizes that Jerry was right and that Tom just wants to eat him. However, when he gets ready to jump into a boiling pot while telling Tom that he still loves him, Tom has a change of heart and starts caring for the duckling in the end.
- Several domesticated animals known for being pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs were originally raised as food.
- The tradition of the United States president pardoning a turkey every Thanksgiving started with Abraham Lincoln, who, in 1863, was sent a live turkey for his family to eat during the holidays. His 10-year-old son Tad Lincoln became quite attached to the bird, feeding it and naming it "Jack". When it came time to kill the turkey so they could cook it, Tad saw what was going on, burst into his father's office, and tearfully begged for Jack to not be killed. Lincoln, touched by the bond between his son and the turkey, wrote an order of reprieve declaring Jack's life be spared. From then on, the Lincoln family kept Jack as a pet.
- Another presidential example is Calvin Coolidge's pet raccoon, Rebecca. In 1923, Coolidge declined having anyone send him food to serve on Thanksgiving, as he felt he could buy his own food. He allowed people to send him food in 1925, and several more unusual animals were presented to him for him to eat, including a live raccoon. Disgusted by the thought of eating a raccoon, Coolidge instead adopted Rebecca as a pet.
- YouTube Let's Player and comedian Ross "YourPalRoss" Botsford revealed in a video with Sky Does Minecraft that he once made a sandwich with the intention of eating it, but for an unknown reason jokingly kept it as a pet for several weeks.
- Mike the Headless Chicken; his owners planned to have him for dinner, but due to a botched axe strike Mike's jugular, brain stem, and one ear were left undamaged, which proved to be enough for the chicken to keep living. Mike's owners decided to spare the bird and turned Mike into a sideshow attraction, drawing in quite a lot of money before Mike eventually choked on a corn kernel bigger than what he could normally swallow.
- Speculated to be how Spunky the red-tailed hawk ended up in a nest of bald eagles — the eagles were initially seen with two baby hawks in their nest before one disappeared, but Spunky remained and eventually ended up being fed and cared for by the eagle parents. The theory is that Spunky and his possible sibling were caught as food for the eagles, but when Spunky started begging for food, the eagles parental instincts overrode their predation instincts and they started feeding him instead.