KOCHI: Kiara is resting after giving birth to her puppies. She is at the Cochin Pet Hospital in Panampilly Nagar with her doting pet parents, after a lengthy delivery. Her puppies are in incubators, and she is eagerly awaiting to feed and cosy up with them.
Launched in 2010, the hospital is the first private, full-fledged medical centre for pets in Kerala. “We are the only multispeciality hospital for pets,” one of the staff proudly claims. The hospital offers total care — from vaccinations, surgeries, laparoscopic procedures and even dialysis for cats and dogs.
“Just next door is the spa and grooming centre,” she says. “From baths to nail-clipping, eye and ear cleaning, and fancy fur styling, we offer a wide variety of services for pets,” the staff says.
Cole — the chubby, furry cat — is getting his ear cleaned. He looks grumpy, but cooperates with the grooming staff, without much of a fuss. In the next room, a mollycoddled pup is trying to scoot from attendees trying to clip her nails.
No doubt, the city’s pet care industry is booming. “During the pandemic waves, many facilities and hospitals have come up in Kochi,” says Dr Soorej K, the founder and director of Cochin Pet Hospital. “Most of our patients are cats and dogs. There are many foreign breeds that have special requirements in the city, such as Siberian huskies, rottweilers, golden retrievers, and Persian cats. Also, now we get exotic pets such as Macaw parrots, iguanas and turtles. There are spider lovers, too.
“Kochi-based businessman Rinku Mathew is one such pet lover who would give his dear ones royal treatment. His companions are three dogs, an African Grey Parrot, and fresh and saltwater fish.
“It is important to give affection to birds, just like dogs. Otherwise, they would get depressed,” says Rinku as he pets his beloved parrot.
With so many pet parents looking for supplies, many facilities have come up in the city. Along with grooming products and food items, these stores also offer accessories such as designer leashes, collars, etc.
Heads Up For Tail
Anagha Suresh, a pet parent herself, recently launched a franchise of the international chain Heads Up For Tail in the city. “The Kochi store is the biggest HUFT franchise in India. From leashes, and harnesses to good items, anything for cats and dogs is available here,” says Anagha. That’s not it -- HUFT also has oil and non-oil massage facilities for cats and dogs. “There’s a bug-repellent oil massage. Then massages using coconut, lavender oils, etc. We also have grooming and spa facilities,” she adds.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Anagha says the city needs to have more pet stores and events. “Most of the dogs don’t know how to socialise, as they don’t get a chance to interact with other pets. So, we recently held an event where people could bring their pets and socialise,” she adds. “Also, we organised an adoption-cum-yoga event. While people did yoga, dogs and cats from a foster facility run by Abhayam Animal Rescue came down to play with them. Animals have a calming effect on humans. By the evening, around eight dogs and two cars were adopted.” The store sells cute bandanas, bow ties and clothes for pets, too. “Clothes are mainly for dogs, as cats would always wiggle out of them,” quips Anagha.
“Though the name is Just Dogs, we have the supplies for every pet,” says Abe Sam Thomas, a partner of the franchise in Panampilly Nagar. Besides supplies such as food, leashes and harnesses, the store also offers grooming essentials, designer “We started the store in 2020, during the pandemic. As a pet owner, I know how difficult it was for everyone to get supplies and services. And more and more people were adopting pets. So, we thought why not start a store,” says Abe.
ROMS N RAKS
Roms N Raks is another expanding pet chain, with multiple branches in the city. Besides pet essential supplies, the stores have snazzy grooming centres, too. “We offer medicated baths, full-body grooming and hygiene care,” says a staff. “Pets such as dogs and cats would be washed with shampoo and conditioner. They would be perfumed and decked up with fancy haircuts. We provide high-end pet care facilities using luxury products.”
THE PET CARE GURUS
These gurus, friends Kumkuma Jacob and Liz Thomas, run a daycare and pet-sitting facility. “During the pandemic, everyone was at home with their pets and now the little ones got used to it. So, when masters go out, even for a movie or eating out, the pets may hit a low,” says Kumkuma. To tackle such situations, the Pet Care Gurus offer day-care services either at their homes or at other animal lovers’ places. For pet parents, who are travelling, the gurus offer a pet-sitting service. People can drop their pets with the gurus, who arrange for a fellow pet lover to take care of them. “The customers can check out the temporary homes for their pets, before dropping them off. The pets, especially dogs, are not locked up in kennels or tied up,” adds Kumkuma.