Fur babies in China are living luxurious lifestyles, which include specialty treats, personal wardrobes and their own rooms
Nick and his wife Jaimie, who live in Beijing, own seven cats and one dog. The couple bought a single detached villa because of their furry family members. They built a large sunroom for them, and they even built a pool for the
dog to swim.
“They are souls, beings and most importantly, they are family,” Nick said. “Some people go and choose a pet. We think our little ones chose us. We try to treasure the time we have with them in their rather short lives.”
In recent years, the pet culture is growing among Chinese, especially among the Chinese middle and upper classes. They go out of their way to pamper their pets.
Apple of my eye
Most of Nick’s pets are adopted, and each of them has their own story, which are mostly unhappy experiences. Fortunately, since they were adopted by Nick, their lives have changed rapidly.
One of Nick’s cat was ran over by a bicycle, one was abandoned on the street, and one’s former owner left their cat behind at the age 12, according to Nick.
As Nick and his family continued to take in pets, they decided to move out of the downtown area and bought a single detached villa in the suburbs. “It was not an easy decision, both from a commuting and financial perspective, but the pets need more space and an environment that’s more animal friendly,” Nick said.
It’s almost like they bought the house just for their pets. During the renovation process, they also took their pets into great consideration.
“Our house was renovated to be dog and cat friendly. Our interior designer is also a dog and cat lover, so it is easier to work with him to incorporate these features into the house,” Nick said. “We had him build a beautiful large sunroom and put in a custom-made bookcase with tunnels and openings for the cats to climb up and down and sun bathe on cold winter days.”
“We also set aside a gym area to share with the dog. He can walk on the treadmill if the weather is less than perfect,” he said. “There is also a lap pool for the dog to swim in on hot summer days.”
“We try to be home as much as possible, which means we try not to go anywhere on the weekends and spend as much time with them as we can,” Nick said. “But we both work long hours and sometimes have to go on long trips, so we have a full-time helper to look after the kids.”
Buy buy buy
The consumption related to pet services is also rapidly increasing in China. According to a report by the Youth Daily in August 2016, the market volume of the pet industry reached 97.8 billion yuan ($14.1 billion) in 2015, and is expected to reach 200 billion yuan by 2020.
Since Sean Cui got his 8-month-old Schnauzer over a month ago, he has packages coming in almost every day. They all contain either dog clothes, various imported dog treats, or various shampoos.
“It was love at first sight. I did not even intend to buy a dog that day, but he immediately lit up when he saw me, and I felt a connection between us. I have not been able to stop spoiling him ever since,” Cui said.
Cui is not the kind of person who spends a lot of money on clothes, but since he has adopted his dog, he has bought the dog over 20 outfits.
“I bought all kinds of clothes for him, shirts, hoodies, suits and a down jacket. I spend hours online to figure out what the right size and style is for him. He looks so cool in all of those clothes,” Cui laughed.
He also constantly buys dog treats and toys for his pre-
cious one. “I bought dried beef cubes, chicken cubes, sushi, carrot cookies and salmon oil imported from Norway. They are not only delicious, but also good for health.”
Mary Peng, the founder of International Center for Veterinary Services, said in recent years, the pet-loving culture in China is growing.
“In China, pet owners are more likely to think of their pets as children. They wish to show them their love by spoiling them with home cooked foods, dressing them and pampering them with grooming, fancy hairstyles and even coloring the pet’s fur,” Peng said.
That has spiked her business. Peng’s facility provides bathing packages or full grooming packages with hair styling and haircuts, including full-body shaving. “We generally receive five to 10 clients a day,” Peng said.
Peng has also seen many pet owners take the pampering up a notch to the level of extravagant. Many businesses have noticed this and have added luxury services to their offerings for pets.
Domain, a high-end restaurant, started to offer “Puppiccinos,” a cup of sugar free whipped cream, to all four-legged guests this month. Rosewood Beijing also launched an accommodation package for pets and their owners for 2,800 yuan a night, which offers pampering services they both can take advantage of.
However, Peng said that some pampering could also have unintended consequences. “The wrong treats could lead to inadequate nutrition, hair dyes are sensitive to their skin and too much pampering without discipline could also lead to behavior issues. The owners need to show their love in a rational way.”
Chinese pet owners go to great lengths to pamper their pets.
1-4: Sean Cui bought over 20 different outfits for his dog in just one month. Photos: Courtesy of Sean Cui 5: Magic, a Corgi puppy, not only has a big fence and a puzzle pad, but also a personal ayi. Photo: Courtesy of Leona Chen 6-8: A golden retriever receives a bath and grooming services at International Center for Veterinary Services. Photos: Cui Meng/GT 9: One of Nick’s cats lying comfortably on the carpet.