Beef and potato, salmon and salad; at first glance one of Shanghai’s newest restaurants looks like a normal bistro. But the sign above the door of the sleek new eatery identifies a rather different clientele. “Not a human restaurant,” it says, “We only serve pets.”
The Cat and Dog Club is the latest example of the ‘new’ business ideas in China’s booming pet sector, which generated Rmb295 billion ($45.48 billion) in sales last year, according to Guangzhou-based iiMedia Research.
It was only a couple of decades ago that pet ownership was frowned upon in China but there are now more than 100 million pet dogs and cats – and millions more rabbits, birds and miniature pigs.
That explosion in pet ownership – annual increases of 8% for the last 10 years – has spurred a surge in pet-related services: grooming, feeding, clothing, kennelling and even cloning.
The Cat and Dog Club wants to promote the idea of feeding animals fresh food instead of kibble and other processed products, Chinanews.com reports. In the past, domestic cats and dogs were typically fed scraps from the dinner table, often supplemented with a bit of rice. But higher incomes and better understanding of pet care have persuaded many owners to switch to pre-prepared food designed to meet their animal’s nutritional needs.
One visitor interviewed by Chinanews.com said she had brought her four-and-half year-old border collie Chip to the new Shanghai restaurant “for the experience”. She ordered her dog the chicken and the beef – both of which he “polished off in minutes”.
Photographs of Chip show him sitting in a dog stroller and being presented with plates of food on a tray. “I think the price of the food is acceptable, the ingredients look fresh, and dogs like to eat it,” his owner applauded.
Dishes at The Cat and Dog Club range from Rmb20 to Rmb200 in price and include chicken, eggs, yogurt and vegetables. The meals are served by uniformed waiters or picked up from the restaurant’s conveyor belt of meal options.
Another owner explained that she had brought her two dogs to the restaurant because the service was good and the price was reasonable.
Video footage from the eatery shows the chef putting a freshly prepared plate on a tray: the finely diced ingredients are arranged delicately in the centre of the dish with a drizzle of sauce around its edge.
When the food arrives at the table the owners feed their pet fur babies with a wooden spoon. And when the animals have finished their meals, there is a play area for the pets to burn off the calories.
Perhaps the restaurant might benefit too from another new feature in the pet-ownership scene in China – dog dates, where these animal get togethers allow their owners to meet like-minded types…
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