It’s good for me to educate myself about domestic cat caretaking in China. I want to get under the skin of the citizens of China to better understand how they relate to domestic cats. And it is welcome news to me that an enterprising lady, who I presume lives in Shanghai, Chen Suting, has started up a cat-sitting service for Shanghai residents.
Taobao is China’s popular online shopping retail platform which currently has nearly 500 million registered users and more than 60 million regular visitors per day. Chen Suting is using this platform to sell her cat-sitting services.
Her enterprise started when she had a bad personal experience and decided to do something about it. She adopted a stray cat from a neighbourhood who she called Chenpi. She had to go away for a few weeks about a month later and asked a friend to take care of Chenpi. The cat misbehaved according to the temporary caretaker and inappropriately eliminated in her friend’s home. Her friend became annoyed and kicked her cat out. The cat disappeared and she was inspired to stop that kind of incident happening again.
She started to take care of friends’ cats and did a good job and, as happens, word got around and she acquired some clients. One thing led to another and she opened her online business ‘Heymao’ on the Taobao website referred to above.
Success followed and she now has a team of 150, most of whom are women in their 20s. Interestingly, she thinks that domestic cats prefer the voice of women. She sets high standards as a course she has to because when you are looking after someone else’s cat you take on a heavy responsibility. She has a checklist which includes such tasks as ensuring that the windows are closed when leaving the house.
Each cat-sitting session lasts about 40 minutes. Within that 40-minute session the service includes such tasks as refilling the cat’s water and food bowls, preparing food if needed and cleaning the litter box and changing the litter. It also includes playing with the cat.
During national holidays they are oversubscribed with requests for cat-sitting. They might receive 400-500 requests per day during these times, which is 10 times more than normal. Most of her employees work part-time and many do it out of love for cats.
Comment: the trouble with me is that nearly everything I read about cats in China is bad news which is obviously entirely incorrect because there’s a lot of good news coming out of China with respect to the domestic cat. It is clear to me that the pet owning public in China is growing and as a consequence the businesses based upon providing services and products for these citizens is also growing rapidly. The author of the article on the Shine.cn website, Zhang Long, tells us that, in 2020, there were 48.2 million cat owners in urban China and the market value for businesses servicing this market is US$31.09 billion or 202 billion yuan.
As to a female voice being preferred by cats…uhm, that’s a tricky one. I don’t subscribe to that idea. It depends far more on the behavior and personality of the cat’s guardian/owner than their pitch and frequency of these voice.
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.