SPECIAL NOTE: A few months ago, a good friend, once my student, now an administrator in a university, told me his parents just acquired a white poodle! And I wondered why? When I was in China, I saw more and more women would bring out their pet dogs, usually small ones, to walk along the streets or to congregate in the parks…to breathe some fresh air: for the owners and the pets. Like Japan and USA, China is also going gaga about animals. Reports said older people, lonely for their adult children, many choosing not to return home to visit, some simply disappeared, are now adopting or investing in furry animals to keep them company…if that is true, it is a sad commentary on the Chinese society. Recently I wrote about RENTING PURRING ANIMALS as part of China’s emerging e-commerce on SHARING ECONOMY…people who have time and money to throw away, can rent cats to see if they like animals. Feifei joined the family some time ago, because my dear friend, a young lawyer Eason Hu, brought home a dog after college. Then he became very jealous because his Feifei prefers the company of his father, also a lawyer. Feifei spends more time with his father, who would bring Feifei everywhere, including his office. And now he is not happy that Feifei is spending less time with him…but what was so strange to me was the fact he would not sleep with Feifei…after he spent so much money on grooming and cleaning…Eason kept saying, no way I will sleep with him, he is dirty! After spending all his money on shampooing and cleaning and grooming his dog? I told him Americans eat, sleep, travel with their pets…So the story of the pets in China continue…now, like Japan, thetr are pet cemeteries, pet match-making, pet wedding, etc. Hm! Having pets is nothing new in the world…I was just watching the British royal family…it is a tradition in the royal family to own, breed and live with their pets. Even the present Queen is seen with her pet dogs when meeting with important people coming to her palace…and of course, she loves to ride her favorite horses…pet dogs are featured in many famous royal paintings…I wish I have more time at home…because interestingly in America, many people would own big dogs so they can take them out for their daily walks…a dog to help them with exercises. Long ago, when I was a college student at the University of Texas, I was a guest at a Talk Show, and I met an important Texan, and he had just published a book FOOTPRINTS OF MY DOG…the story was, after the death of his wife (in USA, men usually die first, hm!), his children decided to return to Scotland to find this dog…a special dog that their parents had met and talked about. Yes, the children brought back this dog for their father, now living alone…the reason? So he could spend time with the dog and good for him to take the dog out for daily exercises. Why not? I wish I have more time for this, but since I travel at least once a year…away for a month or two, I did not want to have a pet, though I grew up with animals in the farm. I really need a pet, so I could also do my daily physical exercises…just walking a dog! When I was living out in a farm house in Texas when I was living in Texas, a friend’s father gave me a shot-gun (which I quickly gave it away) and a dog…a very special dog…what was so great about it was that, every time I would go to my mail box by the curb of the road outside the farm house, my cat and dog would walk with me…Unfortunately, one night I came home from the campus, the University of Texas, someone had broken into my house, and the dog was tied to a chair. The thief could have taken the dog with him…I continue to love animals…we have a saying in America, animals would come to you because they know you love animals…interesting! Animals would avoid those who have no passion for animals…test it out yourself. Steve November 28, 2017
Why it’s no longer a dog’s life for man’s best friend in China
Millions of consumers eager to pamper their furry friends are making the pet products industry an increasingly lucrative business
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017,
Fang Fang, a mother of one and head of the Angels Chorus choir in Beijing, takes care of her pets as conscientiously as she would close family members.
Living with five adopted cats, one 16-year-old dog, three hamsters and an aquarium full of fish, Fang spends at least 4,000 yuan (US$600) each month on them, buying top quality food and keeping her ageing dog healthy with nutritional supplements.
The expense includes weekly fees for caretakers for her fish and coral. She also spends 100 yuan each day on house cleaning, buys imported essential oils to deodorise the air, takes her dog for a bath once a week and physical checks twice a year. If the dog catches a cold, the treatment costs her 1,500 yuan each time.
In addition, Fang has been donating 1,000 yuan to stray animal protection organisations each month for the past nine years.
“I just cannot resist the temptation of taking care of small animals. They are my kids. If you love them, they return all your love,” Fang said.
Fang’s affection for her pets mirrors a popular trend in increasingly rich China where owning a pet is no longer criticised as a bourgeois pastime as it was during the Mao era.
Pets are not only seen as good companions but also one of China’s burgeoning consumption markets.
Surging incomes, demographic changes such as young people moving to big cities, the growing number of empty nesters and dink families (double income, no kids) stand behind the rising market, according to an annual survey jointly released in September by Pet Fair Asia, the biggest exhibition for pet suppliers in Asia-Pacific, and Goumin.com, one of the largest pet websites in China.
The survey found nearly 60 million out of a total of 340 million households have pets (2 per cent more than last year).
Spending on them is expected to reach 134 billion yuan this year and grow more than 30 per cent annually in the coming four years.
It is estimated that Chinese residents had more than 100 million pets at the end of 2016, the second largest number in the world after the United States. Pet dogs outnumbered pet cats by two to one.
Fang’s expenditure on her furry friends is much higher than the national average, which was expected to be 6,500 yuan each year according to the survey.
In addition to her monthly spend, there were also costly one-off purchases, Fang said. She spent 9,000 yuan on solid wood furniture for her cats, paid over 20,000 yuan for the fish tank, and once replaced her sofa twice in the space of a year because the cats like to scratch the filling.
Then there are the medical costs.
“One of my friends who is a teacher spent two months at home for the summer holiday this year. After the autumn semester started, her cat refused to eat or drink, and was sent to a pet clinic for a week, spending nearly 10,000 yuan for various checks.”
She said they only thing they discovered was that the cat was pining because it had not readjusted to its owner going to work every morning.
According to the survey, more than 70 per cent of pet industry companies have seen their income increase by more than 20 per cent, and half of the market incumbents started their businesses just five years ago.
The market potential is not only limited to food and medical care.
A wider range of services such as professional training in pet schools, beauty salons and burial services have also reported a growing demand.
A report on Chinese state radio said pet owners in big cities were willing to spend thousands of yuan to bury their late companions in pet cemeteries which offered interment services as sophisticated as those available for humans.
Local media also reported that Wenzhou in Zhejiang province has been transforming one of its towns into a pet paradise, offering attractions that include food, accommodation, pet filming, beauty contests and even matchmaking.
However, despite the surging industry, finding good-quality products and pet care services remained a major concern for pet owners, the survey found.
Zha Yin, an online game developer in Beijing, has two pet cats and said he had already spent around 150,000 yuan on them in the past two years.
“There are some brands of cat food with harmful ingredients. So much information on the internet is hard to confirm,” he said.
“There are many which are registered overseas while produced domestically but branded as imported products. The market is chaos.”
Spending on pets in China is expected to reach 260 billion yuan by 2020 led by rapid growth in pet food and veterinary industries, the leading brokerage firm China International Investment Corporation said in a research report published in October.
It estimated that Chinese pet food companies, where the market is estimated to grow by 20 per cent each year, will face strong competition as they try to break the dominance of overseas brands.
Looking ahead, Zha plans to set up business of his own providing information to pet owners.
He hopes to develop a mobile phone app to offer “convenient and one-stop services”, including price rankings, standardised and official ingredient information, and knowledge on how to select food and other products for pets.
“Once the users open the app, all their needs for taking care of their cats can be found. That is what I want to do,” he said.