If you frequently play with pets in The Sims 2, you’ll most likely experience a runaway pet at some point. In this guide, I’ll cover why this happens and what you can do to get your runaway pet back as soon as possible.
Runaway pets are still part of your household, but the game considers them “lost.” Their portrait will show a little runaway (bindle/bag on a stick) icon.
The Importance of Collars
It’s always a good idea to buy collars for your pets. If your pet does not have a collar and you don’t report it lost, it will never be returned. It will join the stray pool in the neighborhood instead.
If it does have a collar, your Sim might get a phone call asking if you want your pet returned. Every day your pet is lost, there’s a random chance that you’ll receive the call. The chance declines each day, and after a while no call will come.
Sims on other lots can also return pets with collars. I always try to collar my pets – just in case something happens!
You can purchase a collar for your pet at any pet store in the game. Look in your lots and houses bin for a Maxis-made pet store you can plop down, or build your own and make sure to put a collar display out somewhere.
Click on a collar display like the one shown above to buy a collar. Your pet does not have to be with you. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and they only cost $49 each.
When you return home, click on a mirror and choose “Change your Pet’s Appearance” to put the collar on them. Make sure you purchased a collar for the correct type of pet (small dog, large dog, or cat) or it won’t show up!
How to Get Your Runaway Pet Back
If your pet didn’t have a collar or you’re just tired of waiting, there are two more ways to get your runaway pet back. Report them lost using the telephone or return them using another playable household in the neighborhood.
Reporting Your Pet Lost
Send a Sim to the phone and choose the “Report Lost Pet” interaction. This interaction is only available when a pet in the household has run away.
Now, regardless of whether or not your pet has a collar, your household will eventually receive a phone call asking if you want the pet returned.
If you choose “Yes,” a police officer brings your pet home and it’s returned to your household safe and sound. If you choose “No,” your pet is permanently removed from the household and added to the neighborhood’s pet adoption pool.
Return Your Pet with Another Household
If a pet runs away from one lot and appears as a stray when you’re playing a different lot, Sims in the current household can return the pet. But this only works if the pet has a collar OR a Sim in the current household has a daily relationship with the pet above 0.
Send a Sim to the phone and choose the “Call Pet’s Owner” interaction. This interaction is only available when there’s a runaway stray from another household on the lot.
The owner will visit shortly after the call to pick up the lost pet. They will also thank the Sim who called, resulting in a daily relationship increase. In some cases, the pet owner may be so happy that they offer a cash award for the Sim’s help.
Preventing Runaway Pets
In The Sims 2, pets may run away for a variety of reasons. It’s not always the player’s fault. Here are some things that might make a pet run away:
- They’re chased by other pets. (This is more likely if the pet is Cowardly.)
- They’re chased by a wolf.
- They lose a fight with another pet.
- They become enemies with four or more pets and/or Sims in the household.
- A fire breaks out on the lot.
- The Sim with whom the pet has a Master Relationship dies.
- The last Sim with whom a cat has a Mine Relationship dies.
- A Master or Mine Relationship is lost due to a damaged relationship.
- Their social need drops below -85.
If you make sure none of these things ever happen, your pet will not run away. However, some of these can be impossible to prevent. You can’t always control when a fire breaks out or a wolf chases your pet, for example.
There is one way to prevent your pet from ever running away, though. Surround your lot with an uninterrupted fence and place a gate. Set the gate to disallow pet use. Now your pet can’t get out no matter what!