Pam­pered Pets

Fur ba­bies in China are liv­ing lux­u­ri­ous life­styles, which in­clude spe­cialty treats, per­sonal wardrobes and their own rooms

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Zhang Xinyuan

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.”

Lux­ury ser­vices

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.”

Photo: Cui Meng/GT Meng/ GT

Chi­nese pet own­ers go to great lengths to pam­per their pets.

Photo: Cour­tesy of Nick

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.

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