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Sapient Pet

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Pet characters in most works are Nearly Normal Animals, whether with the ability to talk in Animal Talk or not. These animals, however, are just animals, not intelligent beings like humans.

This trope, on the other hand, is about pets who are intelligent and able to interact with their owners (usually a human, but can be a human-surrogate animal or alien) on the same level. Sometimes these pets are actually smarter than their owners and choosing to hide it, other times they are open about being sapient beings and are accepted as part of the human world as well as their own world.

Pets that shift between humanoid and "pet" forms do not go here and should be under Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag instead.

There are several variations on this

  • Sapient Pets That Masquerade as Normal Pets Around All Humans: These beings choose to hide that they are at least as smart as a human. Sometimes this involves a disguise as a normal animal, other times the entire species plays dumb to stay hidden. The examples including Broken Masquerades would belong here, as a broken masquerade would suggest that there is a masquerade. Unlike the other variants, it doesn't involve animals being treated as pets and people simultaneously.
  • Sapient Pets That Masquerade as Normal Pets Around Some Humans: Unlike the above variant, these beings can behave like humans around some humans but not around others. Unlike the above variation, they are treated either like people if only those who know are around or as pets if humans who should not know they are sapient are around. They do not shapeshift to do this, they simply modify their behavior. Shapeshifters that turn from humanoids into pets and back in order to hide go under Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag, not here.
  • Openly Sapient Pets: These are intelligent beings that don't hide that they are intelligent. Some of these beings are treated like non-sapient animals despite their sapience, and others are treated as the sapient beings they are. They may be accepted by humans around them or humans may react in horror. Either way, these beings are not afraid to "be themselves".

This trope also includes sapient animals and aliens who are service animals, lab animals, livestock, circus animals, or zoo animals.

Not to be confused with Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag. Sister trope to Sapient Steed. See also Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, and the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism. Supertrope of Human Pet. Related to Amplified Animal Aptitude and Intellectual Animal. Many Weasel Mascots fit this trope too.


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    Sapient Pets That Masquerade as Normal Pets Around All Humans 

Comic Books

  • In Silver Age Supergirl comics, her horse Comet, who is really a humanoid who is in love with her but has been transformed into a horse. When a comet passes the earth he becomes a human for a short period of time.
    • Also Krypto the Superdog for Superboy. A doglike creature from the planet Krypton, he "speaks" through thought balloons much like Snoopy.


  • In Barnyard, and early episodes of its spin off series Back at the Barnyard, the farm animals all act like dumb, domesticated animals unless they're wearing disguises when humans are around, but stand on two legs and throw parties when humans aren't around.


Tabletop Games

  • In the Star Wars RPG Sourcebook, "Cracken's Rebel Operatives", Moff Jarnek's pet Daerlar is a Covallon. Because Covallon walk on all fours, it isn't widely known that they're a fully sentient race. Dearlar chooses to keep this fact secret rather than seeking his freedom because he is a spy working for Cracken, and his position is the perfect "cover".

Western Animation

  • The Wonder Pets! are ordinary classroom pets, until school ends, and they put on capes, fly in a flying ship and rescue baby animals.
  • Futurama has Nibbler the Niblonian, part of an ancient race of geniuses who pretend to be stupid in order to protect and monitor "lesser races" like humans. Standard procedure when The Masquerade breaks is to Mind Wipe anyone who knows how intelligent they are. Nibbler once forgets to do this; even though the crew remember that he is intelligent, they go back to treating him like a mindless pet until it becomes relevant because he seems to prefer it that way.
  • Fat Cat is a pet in the Pilot Episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and only in the pilot. After his owner Klordane is arrested, he becomes anthropomorphic completely.
  • Newt The dachshund dog in the Animaniacs episode, “Meet Minerva” may be a Funny Animal who talks, but he is still the hunting dog of a hunter.

    Sapient Pets That Masquerade as Normal Pets Around Some Humans 

Anime and Manga

  • Tenchi Muyo! has Rio-Ohki, the cabbit. Around her caretakers she is as smart as a human child. Around everyone else, though, she's a pet.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, magic school students are required to summon a familiar as part of their second year final exam, and the familair summoned is considered a pet, regardless of what ends up being summoned. The students themselves have no idea what will happen as the spell chooses their familiar for them.
    • Tabitha summons a large rhyme dragon she names Sylphid. We find out just how sentient Sylphid is when it's revealed that rhyme dragons are shapeshifters and Tabitha's "sister" Illococoo is really Sylphid's human form.
    • Louise summons Saito, a young man from the modern world. Though Saito is treated by everone else as a human (to the point that he is later knighted and thus legally a noble in wizard society despite being a muggle), Louise still treats him as a pet.
    • It turns out that "void mages" can only summon humanoid familiars, so by definition the familiar of a void mage is always a sentient pet.
  • Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon can talk and have powers, but only do so to the Sailor Scouts.
  • Jiji the cat from Kiki's Delivery Service. Kiki, being a witch, is the only one who can understand him. She loses this ability once she loses her powers.
  • For a brief time, Shamisen in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, before Haruhi's powers returned him to normal. (Presumably.) While sentient, he avoided speaking in Haruhi's presence.


  • Salem Saberhagen from Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a warlock transformed into a black cat as a punishment for trying to take over the world. Around other witches and warlocks he is (mostly) treated as a person but around Muggles he acts like a normal pet cat owned by Sabrina. The premise is the same in the live action TV show.
    • It was also adapted into an animated television series, in which not only was Salem a talking cat, he would also occasionally stand upright and wear clothing, but typically only when not around Muggles.
  • Zeke the dog from Zekes Guideto History is an affable time-traveling dog who only talks to and warps around his adolescent master in order to teach him life lessons from history.


  • In Disney's Aladdin, Jafar's parrot Iago is intelligent, but hides this from people like the sultan in the first movie.

Live-Action TV

  • Mister Ed pretends to be a normal horse, and only talks to directly Wilbur. He sometimes talks to other people but only when they can't see that he's a horse, such as when he makes operator assisted telephone calls, or sings when Wilbur is lip syncing, or insults a police officer when his back is turned.
  • Stan and his pups from Dog with a Blog. They are sapient dogs who can talk (and Stan can even operate a computer), but only Avery, Tyler, and Chloe (and later Grandma James and Karl) know about it. In the Grand Finale they become openly sapient.

Western Animation

  • Unlike in Barnyard and early episodes of Back at the Barnyard, the later episodes of the same show has the animals' Masquerade grow more lenient to the point that their status leans toward the Openly Sapient Pet varaint.
  • The entire premise of Teacher's Pet. Spot is an ordinary housedog, but puts on clothes and goes to school posing as a boy.
    • Every pet can talk and do human things, but typically keep this a secret from their human owners, with the exception of Spot and Leonard's other pets who basically let their human owner in on the secret.
  • Michigan J. Frog from the Looney Tunes cartoon, "One Froggy Evening," sings and dances when his owner is around, but just acts like a normal frog when any other human is around.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the Platypus hides his sapience from his owners, because discovering that he's a secret agent would cause a 'Mindwipe'. He cannot speak any human languague, but is completely sapient nonetheless.
  • Kat from Kid vs. Kat is a hyper-intelligent cat-like alien. He can't speak in the conventional sense, but he is very anthropomorphized in his actions. However, around everyone except Coop, Dennis and later Fiona, he seems like just an ordinary house cat.
  • Corneil from Watch My Chops is a hyper-intelligent and very talented talking dog. He keeps this a secret to all but his dogsitter Bernie to avoid unwanted attention.
  • Fuu the dog from American Dragon: Jake Long. As a magical animal, he is usually is forced to act like a normal dog around humans in the mundane world. However, other than Jake who happens to be a human/dragon hybrid, Fuu is able to socialize around Jake's friends, Trixie and Spud, who are aware of the existence of the magical world.
  • The same trope is used in The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, with their pet pug, who has a Scottish accent.
  • Paco the parrot from Maya & Miguel speaks in complete sentences, but around Maya's parents and Abuela, he acts like a normal parrot.
  • Dukey from Johnny Test is always a straight dog around Johnny's parents so his sisters don't get in trouble for granting human intelligence to a dog. The Men in Black, Mr Black and Mr White, as well as their boss the General, know he's a talking dog. When he's out where other people will see him, he's usually wearing a shirt saying 'Not A Dog', and described as 'the kid with the hair disorder'.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: Unlike his counterpart Cringer, Adora's horse Spirit is content to act like a normal, albeit very well trained, horse around anyone not in on his mistress's secret. When alone with Adora, or in his Swift Wind identity, Spirit is quite capable of holding a full conversation and can be quite wise if asked for advice.

    Openly Sapient Pets 

Anime and Manga

  • Team Rocket's Meowth from Pokémon. All Pokemon are sapient, though Meowth is the only one that speaks.


  • In The Incal, Deepo, a so-called "concrete" seagull and pet of the protagonist John DiFool, gains the ability to talk thanks to an encounter with the mystical Incal artifact.
  • Raul the Cat of American Flagg! is a Talking Animal and quite intelligent, despite being an ordinary housecat in every other way.
  • Rex the Wonder Dog is a famous hero whose rather non-doglike behavior has been well published since the days directly after WWII, he is still a pet in the 1990s despite also being a US citizen and long time employee of the US government. Despite all the alterations made to him he still likes having a human family to come home to and act as a loyal companion for.


  • Gremlins has the Mogwai which, when maltreated, become the even more intelligent and dangerous Gremlins.


  • In the Star Wars book The Approaching Storm, a Gwurran named Tooqi actually asks to become Barriss Offee's pet. His logic is that pets get free food, protection from predators and the affection of their masters, in exchange for a relatively minor amount of work. Certainly a better deal than living wild in a cave with the rest of his tribe.
  • In Heinlein's The Star Beast, Lummox is undoubtedly sapient ... as is John Thomas Stuart. The former escapes most people's notice due to language difficulties.
  • The title character of the children's book series Rotten Ralph is Sarah's pet cat, who behaves like a human being and is able to speak.

Newspaper Comics

  • Beetle Bailey: Sgt. Snorkle's dog Otto wears a uniform and walks around on two legs.
  • Opus the Penguin in Bloom County is intelligent, outspoken, and, at times, paranoid.
  • Dilbert's dog Dogbert is openly intelligent. After the first few years of the strip this morphed into him being Dilbert's roommate more than a pet.
  • Snoopy in Peanuts, who writes novels, plays shortstop in his owner's baseball team, pretends to be a World War I pilot, and wanders the neighbourhood in sunglasses as Joe Cool. To the extent that Peppermint Patty had no idea he was a beagle, and thought he was a "funny-looking kid with a big nose". Apparently, most dogs are like this in the Peanuts universe; the role of "Head Beagle" is a recognised quasi-governmental position with a televised inauguration.

Video Games

  • In Furcadia Wyrmes keep furres as pets. Also, furres are not afraid to keep each other as pets. Generally the furres in question do not mind, either because they are well-treated or brainwashed.
  • In Dwarf Fortress it's trivial to do a Game Mod to turn any sapient species into one which can also be a pet, just by adding the [PET] tag to the right place in the right plain-text file. Of course, since the game designer never intended sentient species to be pets, this can lead to strange results, like a sapient pet being elected mayor.
  • In Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, many of Satori Komeji's pets have lived so long under her care that they have become sapient youkai, who are still loyal to her out of appreciation and friendship.


  • The comic Housepets! is about a group of Funny Animal housepets who act more like children to their human families rather than pets.
  • Keidran from TwoKinds, by some of the nicer humans (of course, they're also seen as a source of cheap labour by more dickish humans). The Keidran are officially slaves.
  • Frequent in Homestuck. Both Jade Harley and Jane Crocker have godlike First Guardians as pets, which clearly display malign but ultimately protective sapience. Both Terezi and Tavros have clearly sapient lusii; Tavros even plays bizarre alien card games with his.
  • In Drowtales, there is a race of cat people with the approximate size and intelligence level as children. Normally, they're kept as slaves, but Ariel's is more like a pet. Also, humans are considered animals by drow, and one has been referred to as a pet.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, when Ice Kreelies are first introduced they're said to be smart enough to play chess, and are sold as pets and delicacies. Later it turns out that they become fully sapient if infected with a certain bacterium in adolescence, and their government is the biggest supplier of pet and meat Kreelies.
  • Meems And Feefs can both happily hold conversations with their owner and her guests, and belong to an entire semi-secret civilisation of ferrets.

Western Animation

  • Pretty much every animal character in Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, whether they be good or evil. Examples include Gwen's unicorn companion, Sunstar, Fallon's unicorn companion, Moondance, Cleo the Unicorn, Spike the Panther and Suger the Dragon (the baby animals Tamara takes care of), and Lady Kale's companions, Grimm the Dragon and the Dweezels. Moondance and Sunstar also qualify as Sapient Steeds.
  • Magilla Gorilla is a talking, suspender-clad gorilla who lives in a pet store; every once in a while he's bought to be a pet, but he's returned by the end of the short.
  • Sylvester, Tweety, and Hector from Looney Tunes are openly sapient around humans (including Granny) even though they are treated like pets.
    • Quite a few pets from Looney Tunes are like this too, including the cat and mouse in "Pizzicato Pussycat" and Marc Anthony the bulldog.
  • In "Wags to Riches" and its remake "Millionaire Droopy," Spike the Bulldog (no, not the Tom and Jerry one) and Droopy the Bassett Hound are portrayed as this.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Adam's companion Cringer is a fully sapient Eternian tiger, in part due to his connection got he Power of Grayskull. Funnily enough when the duo make their first trip to Etheria, Cringer manages to shock the innkeeper of the Laughing Swan by ordering a fish dinner from the man.

    Examples That Show More Than One Variant 

Fan Works

  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Owls are essentially this of the first category, not so much out of choice as because wizards can't (or don't want to) see how intelligent they are. Meanwhile, Peter Pettigrew claims to be a magical rat and Ron's "secret pet", thus of the second sort. And snakes in general are more or less of the second sort as well, since Parselmouths know them to be sapient but most other people don't.


  • James H. Schmitz short story "Novice". Telzey Amberdon's pet crest cat Tick-Tock changes from a "Masquerades as a Normal Pet Around All Humans" (including Telzey) to "Masquerades as a Normal Pet Around Some Humans" during the course of the story, as her sapience (and those of the other crest cats) is revealed to Telzey and several few high-placed human officials.
  • Zig-zagged, and occasionally ambigious, in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. It seems fairly clear that, for instance, Jennyanydots's owners have no idea that she spends her nights civilising the mice and cockroaches, but it's less obvious whether, say, Skimbleshanks's belief that he's basically running the train is shared by the human staff, or if they just see him as a mascot. Humans seem to see Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser as badly-behaved animals rather than professional criminals, but the police are aware of their boss, Macavity. And so on. Many of the poems gloss over the cats' relationship with humans altogether.

Video Games

  • In RuneScape, you can talk to a summoned familiar. Unless you have ten or more Summoning levels than your familiar requires, the familiar will just make noises back. If you do have ten levels more than your familiar, you can understand what it's saying, and carry on conversations proving the familiars are sapient. In some quests, the Summoning skill is used for speaking with non-familiar animals: in "A Clockwork Syringe" you establish a formal alliance with a wild seagull (Baron von Hattenkrapper), and in "A Void Dance" you discuss the options with a dying Void Leech. This raises the possibility that all Runescape creatures are sapient, but only sufficiently skilled Summoners can understand them.

Western Animation

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has different levels of sapience among pets.
    • Dragon cub Spike is sort of like an adopted son or little brother to Twilight Sparkle, but in some ways he is much like a pet; Twilight Sparkle's friends know him, he very much enjoys the attention he gets from them, and like a loyal dog he often works for them and tries to protect them, and he can be very dangerous when his behaviour gets out of control. Yet Spike also talks, and has some ideas that, had they been listened to, the ponies could have avoided a lot of trouble.
    • Angel Bunny doesn't talk, but clearly understands what Fluttershy is saying to him, and often tries to communicate his response in non-verbal ways.
    • This example has a lot of Furry Confusion going for it. Some of the non-pony animals, like sheep, are shown to be able to talk but for whatever reason, are treated like animals. The pets of the ponies, (like Angel Bunny, Opal for Rarity, and Owlicious for Twilight Sparkle) act more like their real life counterparts (except Angel, as stated, often pantomimes his wishes). It's hard to say what is and isn't sapient in that universe, considering Rule of Funny comes into play so often.
  • Gromit the dog from Wallace & Gromit wavers between Openly Sapient Pet and Sapient Pets That Masquerade as Normal Pets Around Some Humans.
  • Roddy from Flushed Away (also by Aardman Animations).
  • The farm animals from Rock-A-Doodle.
  • Blitzer the sheepdog in Shaun the Sheep is openly sapient. Shaun and his flock are sometimes portrayed as maintaining a masquerade around the farmer, presumably to avoid being held responsible for the chaos they bring.
  • Transformers: Played with regarding the animalistic cassetticons and recordbots working for Soundwave and Blaster. While they never talk in the cartoon, they're all but stated to be at least as intelligent as any other member of their teams. And in other mediums Ravage, Laserbeak, Steeljaw, and the rest are all fully capable of carrying fluent conversations.

Alternative Title(s): Pet Funny Animal