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From Stray to Pet

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The Tramp: from street-smart hobo to family dog in the span of 75 minutes!

A person finds a dog or cat on its own and decides to keep it. Occasionally the animal will be someone else's who got loose, however usually they're a stray.

In real life, it is not advised to interact with stray (and especially feral) animals due to the risk of them having diseases or because they might harm you. The latter applies far more to dogs than to cats and domestic birds (such as pigeons). Dogs are more inherently and realistically dangerous and capable of killing a human, whereas the other two, the more avoidant of conflict and relatively harmless cats and the although unwary of humans and disease-carrying in high concentrations but mostly harmless pigeons, aren't.

Pets Versus Strays is not always but is very often involved in such stories.

Compare to Rags to Riches and Recruited from the Gutter for humans. The inversion is A Pet into the Wild. May be done via Abandoned Pet in a Box. Related to Unsuccessful Pet Adoption.


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  • The finale of A Kitten Named Woof ends with both Woof and his best friend the puppy being adopted by two children in the city. In prior episodes, the house they live in seems occupied but we hardly see the owners, and the final episode hints that they left, abandoning the animals living there in the process.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chi from Chi's Sweet Home is a stray kitten adopted by a family. In the manga, it's subverted in that her cat family had owners to begin with, and they've been looking for their lost kitten for a while.
  • Nuko Duke begins with Kei and Sasame starting their new lives in this way.
  • My Roommate is a Cat explores some of the consequences of this, though both cat (Haru) and owner (Subaru) are lucky enough that the worse possible ones didn't actually happen:
    • One of the potential problems with Subaru not taking Haru to the vet immediately was that she could be sick from living on the streets, which fortunately turned out to not be the case.
    • Because Haru is used to food being scarce and eating what she can find immediately, Subaru ends up accidentally overfeeding her because he just fills her bowl whenever it's empty.
    • The hyper-vigilance Haru acquired while on the streets results in her being a little hostile towards the more smothering displays of affection coming from humans, notably the youngest siblings of Subaru's childhood friend and Subaru's Manchild editor who loves cats but married a woman who's allergic to them.
    • One of Haru's siblings also ends up becoming this and is named Hachi by his new owners.
  • Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon: The more pet-like Pokemon can come off as adopted pets, but almost none as strongly as Litten. It was rather fierce toward Ash (and pretty much everyone but Moani the fruit stand owner), not wanting to leave its surrogate Stoutland parent. Once the elderly dog died and the kitten had a day to work through its grief, it accepted Ash's offer to be "adopted" into his team.
  • Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish: The stray black cat that often wanders into Josee's house for food is named Yukichi by Tsuneo and stays in Josee's house.

    Comic Books 
  • Supergirl is prone to adopt stray cats. In Action Comics #261, Kara finds a stray tabby cat and takes him in, naming him "Streaky" on the spot because of the lightning bolt-like yellow streaks on his sides. Unbeknownst to her, Streaky had been given powers because of a bizarre Kryptonite-related accident, and would become her Action Pet for several years. Several years later, Kara found another stray kitten scrounging around her apartment, and she right away took him to her house, naming him "Streaky" after her first cat.
  • Asterix: Obelix's beloved Canine Companion Dogmatix was once a stray on the streets of Lutetia (modern-day Paris), until the events of Asterix And the Banquet, when he spotted Asterix and Obelix coming out of a butcher shop, and followed them throughout the rest of the adventure as a Funny Background Event. Obelix didn't even notice him until the ending feast, when Dogmatix barked for the first time, and happily fed him. By the next album, Obelix had officially adopted him as a pet, and Dogmatix has been part of their adventures ever since.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Little Orphan Annie, Annie finds a stray dog who won't leave her alone. She takes him in and names him "Sandy" to avoid him being sent to the pound.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Zig-zagged consistently.
    • Mittens in "The Survivor," who goes from stray to pet to stray to pet.
    • Blaze in "The Seven" and "The Cameo," who goes back and forth from stray to pet several times, ending up as a stray.
    • Mary in "The Wind" goes from stray to pet and back to stray.
  • In the RWBY oneshot Humble Beginnings, Taiyang found Zwei as a puppy on the streets and took him in.
  • ✨A Sadness Runs Through Him ✨ COMPLETE Snowtuft Warriors AU Map: Snowkit was taken in by Princess and raised as a pet for several months. It was only temporary as he eventually left to become a rogue when Brackenfur reunited with him.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the end of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, Charlie and Sasha are adopted by David. Charlie is given a new chance at life and allowed to live on Earth for twenty more years.
  • Thomas O'Malley from The Aristocats is a stray cat who helps a pedigree pet cat and her kittens get back home. In the end, he ends up being taken in as well.
  • Subverted in Balto. Despite saving the children and siring puppies with Jenna, Balto is still a street dog in the sequel Balto II: Wolf Quest. The historical Balto was also not an example, but for a different reason—he was bred as a championship sled dog.
  • The conclusion of Bolt has the dog Bolt reunited with his owner Penny, but includes his entourage as well: a hamster named Rhino who left a trailer park to answer the Call to Adventure, and a cat named Mittens, who, during an Accidental Public Confession, recounts "They pack up all their stuff, and all their love, and leave their declawed cat behind to fend for herself." The whole trio get adopted into Penny's new country home.
  • Lady and the Tramp:
  • The titular character of Oliver & Company was a stray kitten until Jenny found him.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Spirit was born a feral mustang but gets taken in by humans. He refuses to be tamed, but eventually befriends a human. He is ultimately set free at the end of the film.
  • In Three From Prostokvashino, Fyodor meets the (talking) stray cat Matroskin (it's somewhat of a family name) and wants to take him in as a pet. Similarly, Sharik the dog is supposed to be a stray initially. However, by the time all three live in Prostokvashino, they are treated as equals rather than pets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Firehouse Dog: Rexxx is a canine actor who gets lost in a smaller town, wandering the town of South Harbor as a stray until he is rescued from a burning building by the town's fire chief. They originally take him in until they can find his owner, but end up keeping him as a pet.
  • Goodbye My Lady is about a fourteen-year-old boy who finds a stray Basenji and keeps her as his hunting dog.
  • In Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, the pets become lost in San Francisco, where they meet a gang of stray dogs. One of them, Delilah, and Chance fall in love, but Shadow ultimately talks her into breaking up with him as the goofy Chance cannot survive in the city. However, it turns out happily as, at the end of the movie, Delilah turns up at the Seavers' house, having followed Chance, and the family decides to let her stay.
  • 1930s short film Wanted—A Master is about a dog who has to find a master on short notice, as the authorities are going to be rounding up stray dogs and putting them to sleep that afternoon.

  • Kit Kittredge from the American Girl series adopts a stray Basset Hound in Happy Birthday, Kit!, whom she ironically named Grace for her clumsiness. This sub-plot was also used in the Live-Action Adaptation of Kit's book series.
  • Because of Winn-Dixie is about a girl named Opal who adopts a stray dog she finds at a Winn-Dixie supermarket. She names him after the supermarket in the spur of the moment.
  • During Chocolat, Guillaume loses his beloved dog Charly to disease and is so heartbroken he swears he'll never get another pet...until the Bittersweet Ending, where his friends notice a stray puppy hanging around him. He feeds it but insists that it's not his pet. Vianne just smiles.
  • Subverted in the Discworld novel Men at Arms. Due to his assistance in the case, amongst the Watch's requested rewards is a lovely home for Gaspode the Wonder Dog. The next time we see him he's shooting down the street shedding soapy water while complaining that his flea collection is ruined.
  • Used repeatedly in A Dog's Life:
    • Squirrel and her brother Bone are caught by a couple as puppies. The people however took them on a whim and weren't ready for one un-trained puppy, nevermind two. They end up abandoning them at a mall. Squirrel ends up with a permanent shoulder injury from being thrown out of the car.
    • Bone ends up taken in by two women who see him get thrown out of the car. Squirrel ends up left behind because they don't want two dogs and don't think she's as cute as Bone. Squirrel tries throughout her life to locate Bone but she never does.
    • After Squirrel's friend Moon gets hit by a car and dies, Squirrel is adopted by a family. They however don't keep dogs permanently. They keep dogs while at their summer home then abandon them when they leave. Squirrel, now named "Daisy", is made to sleep in the garage and isn't allowed indoors. For the first few days, she's played with however eventually her owners start ignoring her. Eventually they forget to feed her, causing her to start hunting again. By the end of the summer, they go home without Squirrel.
    • One winter, a now-elderly Squirrel takes refuge in a shed. She is found by an eighty-year-old woman named Susan who gives her food. Squirrel is reluctant to take it at first but eventually gives in. She ends up coming inside with the women, gets renamed "Addie", and the book ends with her living with her new owner.
  • In the first of The Famous Five books, George reveals that she found Timmy on the moors when he was a puppy, and she made a pet of him.
  • Beverly Cleary's book Ribsy recounts how Henry Huggins's dog Ribsy got out of the family car at a shopping center and ended up with another family with five daughters. The girls tried to bathe Ribsy and made him reek of violet-scented soap. Ribsy escaped their clutches and wandered the town until finding a boy with a ball, who snuck Ribsy into his apartment building to feed him. The boy's irritable mother forbids the dog, and Ribsy is left stray again. It's an Earn Your Happy Ending story.
  • In the book Santa Paws, the titular character gets his happy ending when a loving family adopts him.
  • Tailchaser's Song: Played with Tailchaser. He was saved from death by humans. He sleeps in a bed on their porch and eats from their food, however he doesn't actually seem to be their pet. He's still a feral cat instead of an outside cat.
  • Underground: Tiny, a small black kitten roaming around Robyn's apartment complex, is taken in by her due to the increasingly harsh weather and eventually becomes her pet.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Violet was born in BloodClan, but when she was badly injured by her brothers, Barley took her to live with Fuzz, whose owner was a veterinarian.
    • Pinestar, a leader of ThunderClan, left the Clan to live out the rest of his final life as a kittypet.
    • A few of the last remaining members of Old SkyClan became kittypets when the Clan finally split up.
    • In Dawn of the Clans, after Turtle Tail realizes her feelings for Gray Wing are unrequited, she joins her friend Bumble as a kittypet (later goes back to the forest, however.)
    • It's mentioned that RiverClan cats are so pretty that humans often "steal" them to keep as pets.
  • Subverted at the start of Where the Red Fern Grows. The protagonist finds a hound dog being attacked by other strays and saves him. He gives him some food, washes him, and gives him a place to sleep for the night but lets him go the next day. He assumes since the dog had a collar and his paw looked like he had been walking for a long time, he was trying to find his way home.
  • In White Fang, White Fang is born in the wild to a wolf-dog that had run away and mated with a wolf. He's later adopted by his mother's owner, though he doesn't really become a "pet" until the end of the book when he finally knows the love of a kind master.
  • In Wish, Charlie becomes interested in a stray dog she names Wishbone. She and Howard set a trap for him in Charlie's garage baited with meat. After he's captured, he adjusts to life as Charlie's pet surprisingly quickly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Adam Ruins Everything, at the end of the "Animals" episode, Veronica adopts a stray cat that had been living under her porch, that she called Mr. Bitey. (Mr. Bitey was actually female, and had already borne several litters of kittens, and Veronica had her spayed per Adam's recommendations.)

  • Kwang from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues was a stray squirrel before Hyeon ran over his mother and then adopted him out of guilt. He now lives in Hyeon's house with him and travels around in his backpack.

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: V can adopt a stray sphinx cat that lives near their apartment.
  • Every Fallout game (except for Fallout: New Vegas) has a stray dog named "Dogmeat" as a possible companion.
  • Diamond Dog from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain starts as a stray puppy lost in the wilderness. You can send him back to Mother Base and have Ocelot train him as an Attack Animal.
  • Your pet in Stardew Valley is a stray found by Marnie. She'll ask if you want to adopt them.
  • Story of Seasons:
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life begins with the protagonist going from the city to their recently-deceased father's farm. When you arrive you end up finding two puppies: a Beagle looking dog (the classic Harvest Moon dog) and a Shiba Inu. Takakura only lets you keep one but says he will find the other a home in the city. Unlike in other Harvest Moon games, the dog is for aesthetic value and doesn't help with the farm animals. Beta screenshots show them herding however in the final game they can't.
    • Harvest Moon: Save The Homeland has similar Beagle- and Shiba-like dogs roaming around on your farm randomly. You can place food in the dog bowl to befriend them, but once you take one in the other will stop appearing.
    • In Harvest Moon: Animal Parade there are numerous animals, both domestic and wild, that you can keep as pets if you befriend them.
  • In the Shinjuku Singularity of Fate/Grand Order, Saber Alter encounters a stray dog that follows her around and stays even as she tells him to go away. Despite her insistence that he's not her pet, she pampers him like one, trains him and names him Cavall II. She's also outraged when Chaldea decides to use him as bait to trap Hessian Lobo. At the singularity's end, she hopes that he finds someone worthy of his loyalty as he whines his goodbyes.
  • Gotham Knights (2022) has a stray cat manage to get past all of the security of the Belfry (the Knights' secret lair), with the Knights deciding to keep him, buying cat food and (eventually, though the subtitles name him that even beforehand) naming him Cisco.

  • But I'm a Cat Person begins when Sparrow's roommate picks up a stray puppy, despite the fact she doesn't care for dogs. As it turns out the dog is really a "Being", a shapeshifting Mon-type species who constantly fight for unknown reasons and can be owned by humans. They have both an animal form and a humanoid form. The puppy goes by "Patrick" in his human form, "Spot" in his dog form.
  • Dean & Nala + Vinny: Dean and Nala's backstory. He heard a meow and found an abandoned kitten. After feeding, he rode away but turned around shortly after. Ever since, they have been together. Vinny the roach joins them much later.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The Team Pet is a kitten born in the Forbidden Zone that the main characters are exploring, which has been devoid of humans for ninety years. By this point though, only individuals that are The Immune to The Plague would still be around, cats are all immune, the crew badly needs an Evil-Detecting Cat for their mission and they didn't start out with one due to Cutting Corners.

    Web Videos 
  • Nana from Kittisaurus had to have ended up at an animal shelter somehow, and had Claire not taken in her and her kittens, all three would have been euthanized. Once Nana has been introduced to the other cats and they get used to each other, she makes it her mission to befriend all of them.

    Western Animation 
  • Brian Griffin from Family Guy was a stray talking dog found by Peter and he adopted him into their family.
  • The Disney short Feast begins with James finding the main character Winston as a puppy on the streets.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Bev adopts a Pit Bull named Earl, who Escaped from the Lab.
  • Spirit: Riding Free: The title character is the son of the original Spirit. First he was a wild herd leader; then he met the main character and made friends with her, and now he's basically her pet. (Although she does have his barn stall set up so he can leave whenever he wants.)
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Pool Hopping," Garnet and Steven find seemingly abandoned feral kittens and save them. They give them to an animal shelter, though they adopt the one-eyed kitten and name her Cat Steven.

    Real Life 
  • In certain areas, it isn't uncommon for individual animals or whole litters to be abandoned. Since they are used to people, they may follow a kind stranger home and end up as this.
  • Also the story of many animals in shelters who were found as strays.



Winston gets adopted by a kind man.

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