Dwarf Fortress: What Does Stray Animal Mean?
One notification that can confuse newcomers to Dwarf Fortress is one telling them that an animal is now a stray. This might be alarming due to the phrasing, but it's not necessarily a bad thing that one or some of your livestock or pets are strays. It is also something you have some semblance of control over.
When an animal is marked as a stray in Dwarf Fortress, it does not mean the animal is not domesticated and is about to turn on you. All it means is that the animal does not have an owner, which also opens them up to being butchered for materials since there is no particular sentiment about the animal among your dwarves.
How to Assign Animals as Pets in Dwarf Fortress
If an animal is domesticated and you want it to either be a productive member of dwarven society or just want to give your guys and gals some company, you can set them to be available as pets for dwarves who might want them.
To do this, open the Labor menu (the hotkey is 'y'), then click on the Creatures tab, and then the Pets/Livestock tab. From here, you can see which animals are under your wing and decide what to do with them.
The icons showing a dwarf to the right side of this menu allow you to click and toggle the creature as being available as a pet. Your dwarves should come to take them on as pets after a short time. It's worth noting that you do not want to set animals you'd like to butcher as being available as a pet. Just don't do it.
While there is more to know about this system, this guide should clarify to new players what it means when an animal is designated as a stray. Keep a look out for our growing list of Dwarf Fortress guides, such as our guide on how to get seeds.