China’s young people are cat-obsessed but the latest trends of “cat sniffing” and “cloud cat petting” take the craze to a new level.
“Cat sniffing” (吸猫 xī māo) is a term which was invented by Chinese netizens to convey the affection that some owners feel towards their cats. Many young people upload short videos of themselves “cat sniffing” (kissing their cats) on social media to convey the love they feel towards their pet. The word 吸 (xī) is used to suggest the feeling of addiction towards their pets. China is home to many cat-themed coffee shops which is the perfect place for cat lovers to go to “sniff cats”.
Cats have a big presence on social media. “Cloud cat petting” (云养猫 yún yǎng māo) is when individuals watch a lot of cat-related content online. Most people who participate in “cloud cat petting” don’t own a pet cat so rely on online videos and pictures to satisfy their desires to own a cat. Cat emojis and stickers are commonly used on Chinese social media sites and when messaging friends. There are also many “cat creators” who share their cats’ daily life and cute moments on Chinese platforms, especially Douyin. “安生的爸爸” has amassed 12.9 million followers on Douyin.
Chinese consumers also have a keen interest in cat and cat-related products: Tsingtao released a “night cat beer”; Oppo featured cats in their adverts; and Starbucks produced a paw shaped glass in China (see more: How to click with China’s cat generation).
According to a 2019 report into China’s China pet industry, 61.2 million people own pets in China, among which 24.51 million are cat owners. The popularity of owning pets in China is growing. The market scale of products for cats reached 78 billion RMB in 2019, a 19.6% year-on-year increase. The most popular products include cat food, cat fashion, fur care products and games for cats.