Are Cats Popular in China? The Best Information

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Humans, as a species, are social creatures. We need to give and receive affection as a basic psychological need. Humans have not just used animals to provide valuable services throughout history; they have also kept, cared for, and adore animals as companions and friends. The pet industry and particularly cat ownership is a relatively new but rapidly growing sector in China. So, are cats popular in China?

No, cats are not that popular in China despite being domesticated for thousands of years. Recently, cats as pets have seen increased in popularity in China. Cats represent 20% of all pets kept in China. Chinese youth have begun to be captivated by cats in games, movies, and online blogs and posts.

Most Western societies know that cats have been considered acceptable meat animals in China, horrifying Western pet lovers. How can a nation that thought of cats as a food source change its attitude so radically that cats are now adored and cherished as family members? What was the evolution of the first cats in China? Why did the cultural attitude towards cats change? What is the popularity of cats as pets in China, and what are the current cat-based trends?


Cats in Ancient China

Initially, historians thought cats had only been kept as domestic pets in China for the last 2000 years. Recent evidence from archaeological excavations in Yangshao suggests it is closer to 5300 years ago.

Asian Leopard Cat

The Asian leopard cat was the first type of cat domesticated in China. They are the same size as domesticated cats with longer legs. Leopard cats have spotted tabby patterns on their coats. Leopard cats still exist in the wild in China, but their numbers are unknown.

What Does a Cat Symbolize in China?

In ancient China, cats were revered as mystical, spiritual beings capable of bringing either good or bad fortune. At some stages in Chinese history, gave cats a place of honor and protection. Cats symbolized defenders since they controlled rodent infestations.

How Does Chinese Culture View Cats?

In Chinese culture poems about cats and paintings featuring cats were commonly produced. Various myths and legends regarding cats became entrenched in a Chinese belief system. One of these was that if a cat jumped over a coffin, the deceased would rise and live again.

Cat Meat Trade in China

Somehow cats changed from being revered in China to being eaten. As recently as 2019, China killed approximately 4 million cats each year for meat. Many of them undergoing horrible torture.

Are Cats Consumed in China?

Yes, cats are consumed in China. Fortunately, the tide has been changing in recent years, and cat meat is becoming less popular in China. Since the Covid-19 virus’s emergence, many Chinese cities are banning eating dogs, cats, bats, etc.

Here are some of my favorite cat products

In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well.  These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you.  These are the products I really do find most helpful.

Litter Box:  I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat.  Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep.  Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link).  This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost. 

My Cat’s Litter-Robot 3 Connect (with night light on) – See the link above the photo!

Cat Tree:  I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link).  My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa.  She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.

Cat Water Fountain:  I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link).  There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat.  The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that your cat doesn’t need to drink still water.  The second benefit is that it filters the water.  The third benefit is that it will keep your cat hydrated!

China’s Changing View on Cats

Until the late 1980s, there was no word for ‘pet’ in the Chinese language. Since the 1990s, Chinese people have become more interested in keeping pets, including cats. There has been a revolution throughout the younger generation.

Are Cats Popular Pets in China?

Cats are not that popular as pets in China but are gaining popularity. More people are becoming aware of animal rights and the benefits of keeping pets. Pet-ownership has become a status symbol. Initially, only the rich could afford to keep an animal as a pet. Cats now represent 20% of all pets in China.

Dragon Li Cat

Cats in China

There has been a radical transformation in the way the Chinese view cats. The cats are considered part of the family. The result of this is that there has been an increase in expenditure on cat food and accessories. Some cat lovers even import food from European countries.

Are Cats Kept as Pets in China?

Yes, cats are kept as pets in China. Cats are not the most popular pets in China but their popularity is growing. Veterinary services are becoming more common in China as more people own cats as pets.

Are There Veterinarians in China?

Yes, there are veterinarians in China. For many years there was a deficit in accessible Chinese veterinary care. The past five years have witnessed a rapid expansion in pet care clinics in China. There remains a deficit between supply and demand for high-quality veterinary care.

A cat-owner needed to take her cat to the vet. The only available veterinary services were those of the Beijing University, a poorly funded and ill-equipped facility. The concerned cat-owner began a public education and fund-raising drive to implement change, enabling all pet owners to access veterinary care.

This lady, driven by her love for her cat, has managed to establish numerous veterinary facilities throughout China. Still, the gap in supply and demand for cat veterinary care in China is gradually diminishing as more facilities are set-up.

Do the Chinese Like Cats?

The popularity of cats has risen meteorically among urban youth in China. They follow cat stories and characters online. Cat owners share pictures online; cat celebrities have thousands of followers, and Chinese youth use cat-themed stickers on messaging systems. Social media has changed the nation’s outlook on cats.

Brother Cream Cat

Tsim Tung Brother Cream is an orange and white cat from Hong Kong. A local convenience store adopted Brother Cream as their mascot. Brother Cream also has a dedicated public relations team and a cat food brand.

Brother Cream’s story went viral, and now Brother Cream has his own Facebook account with over two hundred thousand followers.

Miu Miu Cat

Brother Cream’s family expanded to include a Scottish Fold cat named Miu Miu. Miu Miu was given to Tsim Tung Brother Cream’s owner and lives at the store with Brother Cream.

Fortune Cats

Fortune Cat

Fortune cats are statues of cats that adorn restaurant counters and shops and supposedly bring wealth to the proprietors. The concept has been appropriated from the Japanese culture, but it is now evident in all corners of China.

What Do Fortune Cats Symbolize?

Fortune cats symbolize good luck and tidings of good fortune for those that possess them. Chinese and Japanese culture appreciate these lucky cats and the good luck they bring.

Does China Have Pet Stores?

Yes, China has pet stores. The pet food and accessories trade in China has grown wings, and with that, it is influencing more and more Chinese to desire to own pets. The pet industry offers elaborate costumes, collars, beds, bowls, etc., for pet cats in China.

Cat lovers are encouraged to post pictures and blogs about their cats giving rise to a phenomenon known as “cloud cats.” China’s rising GDP has allowed consumers to have more cash to spend on cats, which they do extravagantly.

Cat Cafes in China

A growing trend in China is for coffee shops and restaurants to adopt several cats. Patrons can enjoy the company of the cats while eating a meal or having a drink. Many of these establishments develop a loyal following based on the patron’s love of those particular cats.

The benefit of these cats is that they become exceptionally well cared for. Patrons choose to hold birthday parties and celebrations at these cafes, especially to include the cats.

Do Cats Help With Loneliness?

Yes, cats help with loneliness. Many Chinese urban youths live alone, away from their families, in apartments in large cities and many of them suffer feelings of isolation and loneliness. As a result, many have chosen to keep cats in their apartments for company. 

70% of cat owners are female. Owning a cat is also a way for the youth to socialize with peers by interacting with other cat lovers. Chinese celebrities have popularized cat-owning among the youth. The Stars post pictures of their cats on their blogs, talking about their cats’ habits and quirks.  

Is a Cat a Good Pet for a Senior?

Yes, cats are good pets for seniors, especially in China. Many of the traditional shops owned by older, more conservative Chinese also own cats. These cats are used and valued primarily for rodent control.

Some, like Brother Cream, have reached iconic status. Generally, though, the cats are well treated and have become a unique phenomenon in the Hong Kong landscape.

Cat Breeds in China

There are many different cat breeds represented in China. Many may be the usual and garden variety domestic cat. Still, some cat-fanciers search for specific breeds. Unusual purebreds are especially sought after by the urban youth. Here are a few popular cat breeds in China:

Dragon Li

The engaging Dragon Li cat is also known as the ‘fox, flower cat”, Li Hua Mao. Many believe the first domesticated cats in China were ancestors of the Dragon Li. This unique cat breed is considered to be the unofficial national cat of China.

The Dragon Li is seldom seen outside of China. It is usually a small-sized, compact tabby cat with a black, tipped tail.

Siamese Cats

Siamese cats are famous worldwide. Their striking coloring and penchant for crazy antics make them a popular choice with Chinese people. Siamese cats are of Asian origin, although their original home in Asia is Thailand – previously known as Siam.

To see how the Siamese cat stacks up against the Burmese cat, check out our article:  Click Here.

Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair arose out of mixed breeding with Siamese, Russian Blue, and Abyssinians. It has a sharp, pointed face like a Siamese with a coat with unusual tri-colored points.

To read more about the Oriental Shorthair and other cats that do not shed very much check out our article:  Click Here.

Do People Own Cats in China?

Yes, people in China do own cats. Cat ownership is gaining in popularity in China but cats only amount to 20% of pets in homes. Younger Chinese people tend to be responsible for the increases in cat ownership.

Are Cats Loved in China?

Cats are loved in China as pets and are also appreciated for their ability to manage rodent populations. Cats are known in China to be lovable and comforting friends. Cats have also been a source of food in Southeastern China amongst older Chinese people.

What do Cats Represent in China?

Cats represent traditional life in China as rodent control in homes and businesses. Additionally, in China cats sometimes represent laziness and beings that can see spirits. Cats in China can also represent good luck through fortune cats.

Are Cats Good Luck in China?

The fortune cat, or “Maneki-neko,” is a beckoning cat believed to bring good luck to people in China. The fortune cat was first adopted in Japan but its popularity has spread to China. Sometimes the fortune cat is referred to as a Chinese lucky cat.

Big Cats in China

China has many big cats including tigers and multiple leopard species. Tigers are the largest big cat in China and include the Siberian tiger and South China Tiger. Leopard species in China are the leopard, clouded leopard, and snow leopard.

Are Cats Bad Luck in China?

Cats are not bad luck in China. Cats are good luck in China. In China, cats are commonly used in businesses and some homes for rodent control, which is a positive use of cats. Additionally, fortune cats are commonly kept in homes and businesses for good luck.

China Pet Cats

Pet cat ownership in China is on the rise and represent 20% of pets in homes. Common cats that are owned in China are the domestic cat, Dragon Li, and Oriental Shorthair. Cats are also owned in China for rodent control.

What is a Chinese Lucky Cat?

A Chinese lucky cat is a fortune cat or beckoning cat. Restaurants and homes in China will often have a fortune cat to receive good luck.


Video: Dragon Li Information

Cats have had a checkered history in China. They have been venerated as wise, mystical beings, capable of changing someone’s fortune. There have also been dark times when cats have been farmed and kept for meat.

Fortunately, this has changed, and eating cat meat has become frowned upon. Keeping cats as pets has become popular with young Chinese people, and an entire industry has sprung up around cats. Shop cats are highly prized for their rodent catching abilities. Cats are increasing in popularity in China.

If you enjoyed this article, check out a couple of our similar articles for other world regions:

Pro-Tip:  If you are thinking of buying a cat or are a cat owner already, then you should be aware that taking care of the litter box can be a real chore.  In this age of smart products, an automatic litter box has been created that actually makes life easier with taking care of the litter box.  If you want to make your life much easier with a litter box that means you’ll never have to scoop litter again, check out the best automatic litter box on the market (in my opinion) on Amazon. 

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

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