“Cat prostitutes? No, no, no!” This was one of many critical reactions on social media (in Chinese) to the launch of a new “sharing economy” company that is promoting short-term cat rentals. Many internet users were fiercely critical of the idea, calling it cruel and inhumane.
A Shenzhen-based company called Jixiang Cat House (吉祥猫舍 Jíxiáng māoshě) sells specialty cat breeds, but has now launched a service that its website says (in Chinese) is for people who “are unsure if they can take good care of pets or don’t know if they can get along with cats.” The shortest rental period is one month, and the average charge is around 39.9 yuan ($6) per day, depending on the cat’s condition and breed. According to the website, the service includes a guarantee that the cat is healthy as well as a supply of cat food. However, no details are given on delivery of the cats or what happens if the cats get sick while being rented out.
Individual cat owners are tapping into the business, too. On Xianyu, a secondhand trading website, there are several posts (in Chinese) about cat rental. One product description says, “You can take these cats to your cafe or bakery shop. They are good at attracting customers to your shops.”
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