Spring Festival is ruff on owners when pet hotels are booked out

A lot of animal lovers have found it especially hard to find temporary homes for their pets during Spring Festival holiday.

This Spring Festival holiday has seen hundreds of millions of Chinese return to their hometowns for family gatherings.

But a lot of animal lovers have found it especially hard to find temporary homes for their pets this year.

Many found nearby pet hotels were either booked out or too expensive.

“It’s really difficult to find a home for my cats this year,” said Xia Junyi, an owner of two cats in Hefei, capital of eastern China’s Anhui Province.

“The nearby pet hotels were fully booked, and I had to settle for one very far from home.”

She added that pet hotel charges also ticked up during the holiday, some of which increased by half.

Lu Xue, an owner of a small pet hotel in Hefei, said her hotel, which can accommodate up to 35 pets, was booked out weeks before the Spring Festival despite the rise in boarding prices.

“The charge for a pet per day has increased from 40 yuan (US$6) to 60 yuan, and we charge extra for larger pets,” she said. “Even so, my hotel was packed.”

Pet owners can make video calls to Lu to ensure their furry friends are taken good care of.

The booming business of China’s pet hotels is indicative of the country’s burgeoning pet industry.

According to a report published by goumin.com, an online pet forum, the number of Chinese pet owners was 73.6 million last year.

They are raising a total of 91.5 million dogs and cats, the majority of the pets. The country’s dog and cat owners spent more than 5,000 yuan per pet in 2018, an increase of 15 percent from the previous year, the report said.

Luxury pet hotels and pet resorts have sprouted up in Chinese cities, especially first-tier cities.

These high-end pet hotels feature better facilities including air conditioners, air purifiers and around-the-clock surveillance cameras as well as various types of entertainment for pets such as movies and massages.

After failing to find pet shops or friends to take care of his cat before the Spring Festival, Wang Bo, who works for a company in eastern Zhejiang Province, turned to cat-sitters for help.

He found a cat-sitter on 58.com, a Craigslist-style classifieds website.

The cat-sitter, who charged 80 yuan for a day’s job, would feed and clean his cat and send a video of the cat to him once a day.

“I’ll be away for half a month,” said Wang, who called himself a “maonu,” or “cat slave.”

“The pet hotels near my home were booked out, so this is my only choice.

“But this may not be the safest choice,” he added. “I didn’t sign any written contract or ask to check his health certificate. In some sense, the health of my cat all depends on the cat-sitter’s sense of responsibility.”

Chen Hongguang, a law professor from Anhui University, said: “In order to avoid risks, pet owners should sign a contract with pet-sitters beforehand.”

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