Cover image-Pets Peeves
Photo Credit: Li Si

The Secret Life of Chinese Pets

How to talk about (and to) your four-legged friends in Chinese

Ever feel like your pet could use some acupuncture? How about a weekend away in a doggy hotel and spa? For China’s booming pet market, there is seemingly no end to the ways people can choose to show love to their pets—whether it’s buying products and services to pamper them during their lifetime, or holding expensive funerals and even hiring mediums to “communicate” with them once they’re deceased.

With 68 million people in the country keeping one or more pets as of 2021, according to a report by the China Animal Agriculture Association, pet ownership is no longer just a matter of living with an animal in your home. It’s an emotional investment, a lifestyle, and a culture of interaction with non-human family members to love, have fun with, and sometimes complain about.

Like any subculture, pet ownership also comes with its own unique lingo that you might find yourself adopting once you welcome a non-human companion into your life.

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The Secret Life of Chinese Pets is a story from our issue, “The Data Age.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Anita He (贺文文)

Anita is a researcher at The World of Chinese. She is interested in stories that involve gender inequality, social issues, as well as current affairs. She is also passionate about the development of subcultures in Chinese society.