As the Covid-19 pandemic forced closure of schools and workplaces in most parts of the word, many people found it difficult to live the ‘new-normal'. Even though situation has eased somewhat, but it is still far away from what it used to be before the outbreak of the coronavirus. With schools closed and the inception of work-from-home culture, people are finding pets a great source to relieve stress and beat the boredom.
The pandemic has brought a sudden spurt in sales of pets in Kashmir. Zaira Mustaq, owner of Pet Arena, a pet shop, clinic and parlour, says she has been witnessing a rise in sales in pandemic whenever market is opened.
"While sitting at home, one feels bored and needs some positivity, so people are purchasing pets more than ever. This breaks the monotony and gives a purpose to people,” she said.
Rehana, a non-working mother of two kids, bought a lot of pets for her two children.
"They had got bored due to online classes. It isn't easy for a child to sit continuously for hours. They need something to divert their attention towards. So when I saw my kids just being busy with games and phones, I bought them pets."
This way Rehana created a balance in their lives, if they spent an hour with their classes, they spent two hours with their pets. She could see that now her children are more relaxed.
"I bought them a pair of rabbits, some chicks and birds. They love all their pets. They feed them, take them out, pamper them, clean them and it has become a part of their new routine."
Children are equally enthusiastic about their pets and feel a positive change in their life.
Tabia, a class 9 student says:" My cat follows me wherever I go. She even attends classes with me. She is a major change-maker in my life. I feel optimistic since she has come to my home, because lockdown and no school was taking a toll on my mental health."
According to Faheem Khan, who runs a pet branded store, along with his 16-year-old nephew Feline Pearls at Chanapora, during lockdown people looked for an alternative way to deal with the crisis and that's where pets came to their rescue.
Feline pearls, a CFA certified cattery, deals in all kinds of exotic cats and in lockdown witnessed a dramatic increase in sales.
"Since we belong to a Muslim majority place, so people usually prefer cats over dogs, and cats can be kept indoors so people fall in love with them."
He said Persian cats are favourite among the masses.
"Mostly the cats are brought by female students and mothers. Cats are hygienic and easy to maintain and kids instantly connect with them."
While blaming lockdown for the stress and anxiety among people mostly young, Khan remarks that people aren't attending offices, schools are closed, online classes have become a norm and all this has led to anxiety issues among people of all ages. "So to battle it out people are buying pets."
While quoting the researches, Khan says that it has been seen that having a pet at home lowers the risk of hypertension and cardiac arrest.
Calling the Covid19, a blessing in disguise for pet shops, he said there has been a tremendous increase in sales.
“Besides increase in sales of pets there has been demand for food, tonics, accessories as well.”
Adding further Zaira, an MBA student, says people are buying collars, leashes, whistles, pet toys bells, scoopers for maintenance of their pets.
Zaira, who is also owner of Seven Cats, says that during lockdown she saw a lot of people adopting the stray cats.
She offers free treatment for injured pets and has a vet to treat at her clinic. Besides she also offers grooming facilities for pets like washing, haircut, nail trimming etc.
"People have been availing these facilities and as people have ample time to look after their pets so they go for different grooming facilities as well."
After cats and dogs, fishes have become next hot favourite among people from all age groups.
Umer Firdous, owner of Royal Aquarium House, said “as soon as markets opened, we suddenly began to see a huge rush of people visiting us for aquariums."
He said many psychiatric patients came over to his shop to buy fish.
"These fishes act as a stress buster and many people who came to me told me that their doctor advised them to get fish to relieve anxiety."
Firdous further remarks that due to lockdown people have been confined to four walls and as such suffer from depression or other stress-related issues.
"When a person sees fish moving in water their stress is alleviated. These movements have seen to control blood pressure and bring positivity."
He feels ecstatic about this change but simultaneously the heavy tax on transportation of fishes has been worrying him.
"Due to more taxes levied on fish, their prices are soaring. A fish which earlier used to cost just Rs 50, costs Rs100 now."