A shop in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China has introduced a cat rental/sharing service. Justifiably the concept has outraged animal advocates. It can’t work. It is treating cats as if they are cars. The terms and conditions seem to be horrendous to me.
Customers pay a rental for a cat of 39.9 yuan per day. The deposit is 2,500 yuan. One Chinese Yuan equals US$0.16. Therefore, 9.9 yuan is US$6.33 and 2,500 yuan is US$396.63 at the time of writing this article. The shortest rental period is one month. The shop provides the food.
The cats are health tested before and after the rental period. In the same way that cars are checked for dents and scratches before and after the rental period. As usual the deposit will not be refunded if the cats are unhealthy or dead on their return! And neither will the deposit be returned if customers have been found to have abused the cat.
It seems that the person who started this service took the idea from the current trend in China of sharing bikes. The sharing economy as it is called in China is growing rapidly.
The trouble with the concept is that it equates sentient beings with inanimate objects. It totally ignores the well-known fact that domestic cats take quite a long time to become familiar and secure in their new surroundings and with new ‘owners’. The service is likely to result in the cats being stressed and nervous most of the time. The chances of these cats becoming ill or indeed injured would seem to be much higher than normal. And I don’t think they will be able to behave normally with the renter. I just don’t see it happening unless the cat is particularly laid back.
The service, it is said, provides temporary companionship for people who really like cats but who don’t have the time or money to look after one. The shop’s name is called Jixiang. This translates to “auspicious omen”. I suppose they are referring to the person who runs the shop but not to the cat because there’s nothing auspicious about this concept in respect of the cats who are forced to take part in it. The word auspicious means “conducive to success; favourable”.
There’s one last point which I think is worth making. The shop is in an area where tens of thousands of cats are killed annually for cat meat. It is the cat meat center of the world. It should not therefore surprise anybody that somebody in that area decided to treat cats in this way. The culture in this province denies cats are sentient beings with feelings. I believe that this concept would be banned in the UK and the shop owner prosecuted.
The story has been published in The Straits Times which is a Singapore online newspaper.