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pet economy in China

Paws, purrs, and profits: the dynamics of China’s pet economy

The Chinese pet market represents a flourishing sector in the country’s economy. In 2022, it reached a revenue of around RMB 493.6 billion, and it’s expected to double by 2025. Pets have become inseparable companions during many stages of life for several reasons: from avoiding the responsibilities of having children to the desire of not feeling alone. As the population ages, pet owners become ever more popular in China, fostering the growth of the pet economy.

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Millennials prefer having pets rather than kids

As of 2023, there were more than 121.5 million pets in China, with a growing trend expected to continue. This surge in pet ownership is closely linked to a societal shift, particularly among millennials, who are increasingly opting out of parenthood.  One of the primary drivers behind this trend is the substantial financial burden associated with raising children. Indeed, in 2023, it was estimated that the average expense for raising a child from birth to graduation in China is around RMB 627,000 (USD 88,300). This cost can vary significantly depending on the area where a family lives. Meanwhile, the cost of having a pet is between RMB 5,000 and 23,000 (USD 750-3,020) per year.

Apart from the high cost of child care, the relentless increase in housing prices is also driving more people to opt for pets over having children. With the challenge of paying rent already daunting for young people, they are increasingly reluctant to undertake the additional financial burdens and sacrifices associated with raising children. As a result, many are turning to pet ownership as a more viable alternative. Therefore, in 2023, people born in the 80s and 90s represented around 77.7% of the total Chinese pet owner population. The trend has become so strong, that people started referring to pets as “毛小孩” or “furred kids”.

More and more elderly people avoid solitude thanks to pets

Elderly people represent another big chunk of the pet owners in China. COVID-19 heavily influenced older people’s impact on the Pet economy. Indeed, during and after the pandemic, the demand for pets increased significantly, especially among elderly consumers. The lockdown pushed more people to buy furred friends in order not to feel alone, and the trend has increased since then. Furthermore, pets can alleviate negative aspects of everyday life, such as stress and boredom, improving their mental health.

Pets are going viral

During the Double 11 shopping spree in 2023, the sales of pet food in China skyrocketed in e-commerce platforms such as and Taobao. During this festival, 2 out of the 3 bestselling companies were Chinese brands. The French brand Royal Canin ranked first, recording an increase of 60% in sales on compared to the 2022 Double 11. The Shandong-founded company “MyFoodie” (麦富迪), whose sales increased by around 100% compared to 2022, positioned second.

Apart from e-commerce platforms, the pet economy in China also harnesses the power of social media to thrive. As an example, Lu Shaojun (吕少骏), CEO of Weishi (卫仕), one of the most popular pet food brands in the country, opened a Douyin account in which he holds livestreams to sell the company’s products. As of March 2024, the channel has more than 500,000 subscribers and more than 5 million likes. His campaigns became so famous that, on October 20th, 2023, the livestream reached the peak of almost 1 million orders.

Lu Shaojun - pet economy in China
Source:, Lu Shaojun’s official Douyin profile

Pet influencers conquered China’s social media platforms

It is not unusual that many social media accounts have pets as their main characters. This type of content is very popular among young users because pets are perceived as funny and very cute. As an example, the golden retriever named “轮胎粑粑” (tire cake) became extremely famous on socials such as Weibo and Douyin. The dog has become extremely famous on every Chinese social media platform thanks to his funny sketches and extravagant clips, including videos depicting the dog while he’s riding a motorbike. As of 2024, his Weibo profile counts more than 1.1 million followers, whereas his official Douyin account has around 11 million fans and more than 150 million likes.

pet economy in China on Douyin
Source: douyin., screenshot taken from “tire cake” (轮胎粑粑) official profile, in which it does what it is most famous for – riding a motorbike.

Cats’ funny videos also have huge popularity in the Chinese social media platforms

Not only dogs but also cats are becoming very famous on social media platforms. Another popular pet on the internet is Erdou, a cat whose profile (会说话的刘二豆) counts more than 33 million fans on Douyin. The main content provided by this furred influencer concerns being filmed during the day while he’s sleeping, playing with toys, or with other pets. In addition, every video is subtitled, so that the user can imagine the cat as if he’s actually talking and expressing feelings. The account became so popular that some of his videos reached more than 11 million likes.

Pet tourism surges in China’s travel scene

As pet ownership becomes increasingly common, more consumers are including their furry companions in their holiday plans. The hashtag #带着狗狗去旅行#” (travel with dogs) garnered more than 19 million views on Weibo as of March 2024.

Surfing this trend, since 2016, the Japanese low-cost tourism service “Peach” has created a subsidiary company of pet-friendly tours, specializing in organizing trips with buses, in which consumers can bring their own pet and have a different experience with their friends. On September 30th, 2023, the Japanese company organized its first human/dog trip in China, in which 30 people and 22 dogs took a bus from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, in the Hebei province.

Apart from tourist buses, pet activities are becoming very popular in China, and consumers can provide their animals with every kind of experience, for example rafting, riding cable cars, and even enjoying Ferris wheels.  Following this trend, many influencers on the Chinese lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu have started reviewing and sharing itineraries for traveling with pets, in which they recommend the best pet-friendly hotels, shops, and restaurants in a certain area. These comments further boosted the pet economy in China.

Rising pet ownership rates open opportunities for pet-friendly hotels

Previously, pet acceptance in Chinese hotels was limited due to concerns about noise, cleanliness, and allergies among guests. However, recent years have witnessed a surge in demand for pet-friendly accommodations  For example, the hashtag “#宠物友好酒店#” (pet-friendly hotels) boasts more than 29.3 million views on Xiaohongshu as of March 2024, indicating a growing interest in such establishments. Consequently, pet-friendly hotels have mushroomed across the country.

Bookings for this kind of structure peak during festive seasons such as the “dragon boat festival” (June 22-25)during which, in 2023, the reservations for pet-friendly hotels rose by around 64% compared to the previous year. Recognizing the potential of this trend, hotel chains and travel platforms have taken proactive measures.

On January 11th, 2022, the pet-focused platform “Boqii” (波奇宠物) joined forces with the Sunac Cultural tourism group and the hotel chain “Huazhu Group” to launch the “2022 China Pet-Friendly Hotel Industry Initiative”. This initiative aimed to create hotels specifically designed to accommodate pets, offering tailored services and facilities to ensure the best experience for both pets and their owners. Furthermore, in March 2022, the travel agency “Tongcheng Travels” (同程旅行) launched the campaign “带上毛孩子闯世界” (bring your furred child to see the world) and individuated more than 60,000 pet-friendly hotels across China, which can be booked through their app.

Curious brand collaborations and exclusive collections fuel the Chinese pet economy

Given the great popularity of pets and the development of the “cute economy”, many brands have started launching collaborations targeting pet owners. For example, on July 11th, 2022, the pet brand Vetreska (未卡) and the popular American fast-food company KFC launched a fried chicken bucket-shaped cat tree, called “KFCxVetreska cat scratching bucket”. The initiative gained so much popularity, that 1,800 buckets were sold within 2 hours after the beginning of the event. As of March 2024, the official hashtag of the collaboration “肯德基×未卡猫抓桶” has more than 450,000 views on Weibo.

KFC bucket-shaped cat tree launched in collaboration with Vetreska
Source:, image of the KFC bucket-shaped cat tree launched in collaboration with Vetreska

Luxury brands are tapping into the pet economy in China: from high-end pet beds to exclusive pet items

Knowing the potential of the pet market in China, an ever-increasing number of luxury brands have started launching their own pet accessories and clothing collections. At the end of June 2022, Gucci released its first collection of luxury products designed for animals. However, the initiative was immediately criticized after its launch as some of the items like kennels could cost up to RMB 70,000 (USD 9,700). However, the Italian maison was not the first brand to approach this market sector. In March 2021, Tiffany launched many products on the pet market in China, including collars, bowls, and pet treat jars.

The pet economy in China is expanding due to an increasingly wide audience

  • Millennials are increasingly choosing pets over children due to the high financial costs associated with raising kids, with pet ownership representing a more affordable and flexible alternative.
  • Elderly people are turning to pets for companionship, leading to a significant increase in pet ownership among this demographic.
  • Pet-related content, including pet influencers and viral videos, is highly popular on Chinese social media platforms, driving engagement and sales.
  • The demand for pet-friendly accommodations has surged, with bookings peaking during festive seasons and prompting collaborations between pet-focused platforms, hotel chains, and travel agencies.
  • The Chinese pet economy is witnessing curious brand collaborations and the introduction of exclusive collections by luxury brands, tapping into the growing demand for high-end pet accessories and products.