Kyoto Entrepreneur Turned 13 Stray Kittens Into A Popular Business

Cat cafes, where patrons pay to hang out with cats, have become huge in Japan and spread around the world since the first one opened in Taiwan in 1998. Adorable felines, after all, may be the one thing that Starbucks can’t match.

For some business owners, the cafes also offer a way to provide a better life for cats.

Case in point is Cat Cafe Nekokaigi owner Mayuko Horii, who opened Kyoto’s first cat cafe in 2008 with 13 stray kittens. The ancient Japanese city happens to be full of stray cats.

“We adopted the stray cats from a volunteer when they were about two months old. Some cat cafe shops have rare or pedigree cats. But we value Kyoto’s abandoned cats,” Horii wrote via email.

Visitors pay about 800 yen ($8) an hour to play with any of the 13 cats, who chase stuffed toys and nap around the room. Patrons must then pay an additional $US4 per half hour and while drinks are not compulsory to buy, they are priced around 300 yen each. Business seems to be going well, as the website warns that the cafe gets crowded on weekends and the Internet is full of Nekokaigi mentions.

Horii enforces a few rules to ensure a good life for the cats, for instance banning children under the age of 13 and telling patrons never to touch sleeping cats. She also won’t let patrons adopt the cats.

“We refuse it because our other customers who love the cats will be sad to see them go. Those customers may not come back if the cat is gone,” Horii wrote via email.

Below are photos from Cat Cafe Nekokaigi:

Cat cafeWikimedia CommonsCat Cafe Nekokaigi opened in 2008 and is located in the ancient city of Kyoto. So far there are 5 cat cafes in this city.
Cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiThere is a strict rule at the cafe that you are not allowed to disturb sleeping cats.
Cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiThere are definitely a few cat fights but most cats get along since they grew up with each other.
Cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiAll of the cats are 5 years old and have their own bio page on the Nekokaigi website.
Cat cafeHorii MayukoThere are a couple of cat siblings living together in this cafe. Here is a picture of Himawari (sunflower) and Tampopo (dandelion).
Japan cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiAll the cats are named after plants or ice cream flavours.
Cat cafeHorii MayukoCat food costs about 15,000 Japanese yen or $US145 per month.
Cat cafeKiyotaka HoriThis cat has a pretty good view of the Gion Festival, one of Japan’s most famous festivals held in Kyoto.
Cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiNo more than 15 people are allowed in the cafe at a given time. This is to make sure the cats do not become overwhelmed.
Japanese cat cafeKiyotaka HoriiHere is a picture of 11 of the 13 cats living at the cafe.

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