I recently adopted two kittens. Or should I say, two kittens recently accepted my invitation to allow them to live with me. Such are cats.
I’ve always been a pet person. At least, I’ve always been around pets: gerbils, hamsters, cats, dogs, fish, budgies… And I’ve loved them all. But I’ve never, ever once felt the need to dress my pets up. Pets are, after all, still animals. Nature has provided them with all the clothing they need.
It seems, however, that Hong Kong doesn’t agree with me on this. On any given weekend, you can go to any outdoorsy bit of the city (*cough* Sai Kung and Stanley *cough*) and see a whole load of pets in a mind-boggling range of outfits.
I have seen pets in prams. In human nappies. In sunglasses. In tights. In bunches and braids. In make-up. In a life-jacket, in a canoe. And these are just the ones they let outside: the dogs. Imagine what they are doing to the cats, the rabbits and the iguanas stuck indoors.
Sadly, I have no photos of said pet fashions. I don’t want to take any because a) I don’t want to have to ask the owners’ permission and engage potentially unstable people in conversation and b) I don’t want to surreptitiously take a photo and have the owner think I am doing so because I think their pet looks cute in pink shades and a body-warmer.
So you’ll just have to take my word – and a picture of a cat dressed up as Audrey Hepburn – for it. I’ve seen it all. Even the life-jacket. (And although you could argue that a doggie life-jacket is a sensible choice for anyone taking pooch out on the open seas in a canoe I’d reply, yes, but it doesn’t explain why the dog is out in the bloody canoe in the first place.)
And, of course, I am aware that dressing up pets is not confined to Hong Kong. I’ve seen enough American sitcoms to know that it’s a bit of an issue over there, too. But there’s a difference between dressing your cat up as a pirate on Halloween and pushing your chihuahua around in a pram after Sunday brunch. If I were a psychiatrist I might suggest that babyfying your pet is both a display of your unfulfilled baby needs and a sign that you are completely unprepared for such a commitment, preferring instead to put your poodle in nappies.
But I’m not a psychiatrist, unfortunately, and I just think you’re mental.
I took this photo 5 years ago, looking out over a city of art, of culture, and of beauty. Of broad, tree-lined boulevards and cobbled alleys. A city of champagne and steak tartar. Of royal palaces and republican monuments. Of Dumas, Hugo, and Wilde. A city of revolution, and the fin de siecle. Of liberte, egalite, and fraternite. And of light. I’ve been several times, and hope to return many times more. We must. Because if we don’t then they’ve won.