How to Adopt a Stray in The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs

Sims 4 Adopt Stray

In The Sims Universe, a stray is an animal that doesn’t belong to any Sim. So, they’re basically townies, except they’re dogs and cats. In The Sims 4 (like in all previous games), Sims can adopt strays and make them part of the family.

Strays are generated randomly. But unlike townies, strays in the Sims 4 cannot be accessed from the Manage Worlds menu. Instead, a Sim must find them out in the world and befriend them.

Are you wondering how to adopt a stray in The Sims 4? In this guide, I’ll show you several ways – with cheats, with mods, and without cheats or mods (the vanilla way).

Finding a Stray

Strays can only be found in the world of Brindleton Bay (the one that came with the Cats & Dogs expansion). There are mods that make strays appear in all worlds, but in the vanilla game they are restricted to this world.

Stray Dog in Brindleton Bay
A stray dog roaming Brindleton Bay.

To find a stray, have your Sim visit Brindleton Bay. Or, if you want to make it as easy as possible, have your Sim move there so they can interact with strays more frequently.

One way to lure strays to your lot is to use the “Cat Hangout” or “Dog Hangout”  lot traits. These work in ALL worlds, so if you don’t want to move to Brindleton Bay, you can still meet a stray without traveling there.

How to Adopt a Stray (Without Cheats)

Once you meet a stray, the first step is friendship. You must befriend the stray in order to adopt.

1.) Have your Sim meet and befriend a stray cat or dog. Start with a friendly introduction to become acquaintances with the animal. Then, offer friendship and continue doing friendly interactions until you become friends in the relationship panel. This may take a little while.

Meeting a Stray in Brindleton Bay(1)
My Sim met this cute stray dog after moving to Brindleton Bay.

2.) Once you become friends with the stray, a new option appears on the pie menu when you click on the animal. Choose “Adopt” to make the stray part of your household.

Adopt a Stray Dog in Sims 4
Click on “Adopt” once your Sim is friends with the stray.

3.) You’ll get a message asking if you’re sure you want to adopt. Say “OK” and then you’ll be prompted to rename the stray if you like and give them a last name. Now it’s all yours!

That’s the vanilla way to adopt a stray in The Sims 4. It’s quite easy; it just takes a little time. If you’re inpatient and want a stray NOW, you can also use mods and cheats (see below) – or there’s one more vanilla way you can try.

Adopting Strays From the Gallery

There are two strays in the Manage Households menu – Mayor Whiskers (Mayor of Brindleton Bay) and Captain Whitaker the ghost dog. You can click on your household in the Manage Households screen and move one of these two dogs in with your family.

But if Mayor Whiskers and a ghost dog aren’t what you’re looking for, you can also download strays from the gallery. There are several Maxis-made strays available for adoption including:

  • Bear – Newfoundland made by SimGuruEmory
  • Boots – Chihuahua made by SimGuruJM
  • Laika – Newfoundland made by SimGuruRusskii
  • Ruby – Available in several different outfits
  • Ginger & Xena – Pair of boxers made by SimGuruRomeo
  • Bonkers & Boots – Pair of kittens made by SimGuruLakshmi
  • Joaquin – Adult cat seen in the official screenshots and trailers for Cats & Dogs.
  • Shadow – Mixed Breed cat made by SimGuruRad
Pets on Sims 4 Gallery
Search for the Maxis account and scroll until you see the pets.

And there are tons more created by your fellow Simmers on the gallery. Once you find one you like, here’s how to adopt it:

  1. Click on the pet you want and choose “Place Household” like you would if you were downloading a Sim from the gallery.
  2. Now choose your household to move the pet in with your family.
  3. The pet will usually come with $20,000. If you don’t want that much money coming in with a pet, you can use a money cheat to remove it.

How to Adopt a Stray (With Cheats)

If the stray you want to adopt is already in the world and you don’t want to waste time making friends first, or you need to adopt immediately for story purposes, you can also use a simple cheat. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the cheat console by holding Ctrl + Shift + C. When the white bar at the top of the screen appears, type in “testingcheats true” without the quotes and press enter. You should see a message that says “Cheats are enabled.” (You can close the cheats console by pressing Ctrl + Shift + C again.)
  2. Now, hold down Shift and click on the stray you want to adopt.
  3. Choose “Add to Family.” The stray will immediately be added to your household.

You’ll need to enter CAS if you want to give your stray a last name. Since it wasn’t added normally through the in-game adoption method, it will still only have its first name. You can change that too in CAS, if you like.

How to Adopt a Stray (With Mods)

Another easy way to adopt a stray without making friends first is to use a mod.

If you already know the stray (it shows up in your relationship panel), you can use the UI Cheats Extension mod to cheat up the relationship to friends, making the “Adopt” option instantly appear. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download and install the UI Cheats Extension mod. If you don’t know how to install mods in The Sims 4, there are numerous tutorials out there. Google is your friend.
  2. Once in the game, open up your Sim’s relationship panel. Right-click on the stray’s picture.
  3. A box will appear asking you to set the Sim to Pet Relationship. Enter 40 or higher for instant friendship. Then, click “Run Cheat.”
  4. Now your Sim is instant friends with the stray. Click on them and the “Adopt” option will be instantly available.
UI Extensions Cheat Stray Pets
Enter 40 or higher for instant friendship.

So, there you have it – four different way to adopt a stray in The Sims 4. There may be other ways out there, but in my opinion, these are the easiest and they all work without issues. Enjoy your new stray adoption!

Sims 4 Stray Mods

And finally, if you’re looking for some mods to enhance your game, I can recommend the following stray pet mods: