The Chinese New Year break has unleashed a massive demand for pet boarding services as millions of pet owners were unable to take their dogs or cats with them on their journeys back home for family gatherings.
It was reported that the pet boarding industry was booming nationwide during the Spring Festival holiday. In Beijing, overall boarding fees saw an increase by up to 40% with daily care services priced at 599 RMB ($88.3) as well as monthly pet sitting programs reaching 5,400 RMB ($795.99) which is even higher than the cost of renting an apartment per month.
Aside from pet hotels, animal hospitals offering pet caring services were also fully booked. In some vet hospitals in Shanghai, for a small animal, the daily pet care fee was 120 RMB ($17.69) while for larger animals it was slightly higher, costing up to 180 RMB ($26.53).
Compared to the same period of time last year, more pets were sent to pet hotels over this seasonal break, as many citizens could finally embark on a journey home to reunite with family members after years of restricted movement due to the pandemic.
For pet owners who failed to book a boarding service for their dogs or cats, they decided to turn to the Internet for help, which led to the pet sitting industry taking off online. In several Tier-1 cities, each visit can cost over 100 RMB ($14.74) with pet feeding, play time and litter tray cleaning services included. Pet lovers could even make video calls or request pet sitters to live stream on each visit to ensure their furry friends were well taken care of.
On China’s lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu, relevant topics related to pet sitters has amassed over 5 million views, and ‘cat caring services’ drew in the most lively posts with people sharing personal experiences from good pet care to unsatisfied complaints.
Despite the ongoing heat of the pet-caring business, risks do exist as this emerging industry has a lack of standardisation. For example, a large number of pet owners and pet sitters don’t really know each other in real life, and there is no written contract required when entering into these types of services.
The latest statistics show that the pet population in China has increased at a steady pace in the past few years, with around 220 million pets in Chinese households, of which cats and dogs remained the most favourable companions among pet lovers.
The data listed above indicates the country’s burgeoning pet industry, with a growing number of youngsters choosing to have pets while living alone to get a sense of comfort. This group is also willing to spend big bucks on taking care of their pets. While it looks like the pet boarding services boom may relate to special occasions, the overall picture of the pet business in China continues to have a bullish outlook with regulatory policies required in future to avoid risks.