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In China, young people are looking for soulmates for their pets

Taking anthropomorphism to new levels, China's "pet parents" are now taking part in matchmaking events that cater to their four-legged friends

Published: Jun 20, 2024 12:19:26 PM IST
Updated: Jun 20, 2024 01:19:16 PM IST

Millions of people in China are using Xianyu, Alibaba's secondhand sales platform, to find a partner for their pet. Image: Kawee Srital-on/Getty Images Millions of people in China are using Xianyu, Alibaba's secondhand sales platform, to find a partner for their pet. Image: Kawee Srital-on/Getty Images

The number of marriages in China has been falling steadily for several years, leading the government to fear a demographic crisis. Although the number of marriages has recently started to rise again, China's young people are still generally reluctant to put a ring on their finger. However, they are much more enthusiastic about finding a life partner for their pet.

Taking anthropomorphism to new levels, China's "pet parents" are now taking part in matchmaking events that cater to their four-legged friends, reports the South China Morning Post. This special kind of dating is inspired by the codes of popular reality TV shows in the country, such as "If You Are the One." The premise of the show is simple: single men introduce themselves in videos lasting a few minutes, while female guests express their interest by turning lights on or off.

The organizers of the pet equivalent -- "If You Are the Cute One" -- drew on this concept for an event held on May 25, but this time the introductory videos were about pets. In one of them, an owner describes their cat as "having a car, a house and financial independence," according to the South China Morning Post. Personality-wise, this two-year-old feline is said to be shy, introverted, sexy and a little cold at first sight. But potentially interested cats need not worry, as this kitty is much warmer once you get to know them.

While events for single pets are multiplying in China, most of the country's "pet parents" go online to help their furry friend find their soulmate, especially on Xianyu. Every year, three million people use Alibaba's secondhand sales platform for this purpose, prompting the digital giant to create a dedicated section to facilitate pet matchmaking.

Nevertheless, it's fair to wonder whether the pets involved actually feel the need to seek out a companion. Indeed, ethnologists cannot say with certainty that animals can be moved by feelings of love. Some species, such as albatrosses, fennec foxes and blue-throated macaws, are known to be monogamous, but this is not the general rule. In the animal kingdom, the need to reproduce is imperative. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that animals socialize for this sole purpose.

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We could therefore assume that pets might derive a certain satisfaction from the idea of meeting one of their fellow creatures through the intermediary of their owner. And that, conversely, the latter find comfort in the idea that their "baby" is not alone.

In China, as in other countries, dogs and cats have become fully-fledged members of the family in recent years, and their owners go to great lengths to ensure their well-being. They take them to restaurants, specialized grooming salons or even on vacation. Some go even further, taking their pets for a walk in a stroller, just as they would with a "real" child.