If, like me and many others, you’re more of a dog than cat person, you may be wondering why we’ve dedicated this week’s upload to the plight of Beijing’s stray cats.
Let’s start with the numbers. Despite my preference for canines, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that cat ownership is booming, especially in China, and the figures back it up.
Cats are the world’s most popular pets, outnumbering dogs by three to one. In China, there are an estimated 58million cats, a mere 30million fewer than in the US, which has the highest number of cats in the world and will be celebrating them during National Cat Day this Saturday.
Whilst China hasn’t (yet) gone to such lengths as to have a national day for their feline friends, the pet industry is forecast to grow by more than 50% in the next three years.
But despite our love affair with pets, life for some of cats is far from purr-fect (sorry readers) and China is no exception. Which brings us to today’s content -where we follow some of the dedicated volunteers saving Beijing’s street cats and rehoming them through monthly adoption days.
The Chinese have a long history with having cats as pets. Research into cat bones unearthed in archaeological excavations in 2001 show that the Chinese were living alongside Asian leopard cats as early as 5,500 years ago. Miao!
Still, the lengths these volunteers go to are astonishing.
Sure, on the surface, there are the obvious jobs of picking up abandoned animals, organizing the monthly adoption days and running social media campaigns to find potential new owners. Which is impressive enough alongside working full time and having a family of their own.
But then we meet Xiao Zhan, who arrives for filming wearing a mask. She’s a seasoned volunteer, having helped many animals over the last 3 years. But it turns out she has an allergy to animals that is sometimes so bad she has to seek hospital treatment. She sneezes frequently through our filming.
So why not quit, get a new hobby? This is someone who, in her own words, couldn’t ‘bare the look in their eyes’ if she stopped volunteering and left the animals to their fate on the streets.
Our next contributor Ling Yinmin is extraordinary. As we film her in a flat all set up for the cats, she reveals that she pays the rent herself out of her own pocket. Remember, this is Beijing, a place we love, but still one of the most expensive cities to rent in the world. Add to that the cost of getting the pets fighting fit for their future family and we’re talking a small fortune.
They believe the cost is worth it – over the last five years Ling Yanmin, Xiao Zhan and many other dedicated volunteers have found new families for over 1000 animals.
Interested in helping these volunteers or giving a pet a forever home?
Search for ‘Beijing Adoption Day’ in Weibo and WeChat.