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 Horii Mayuko, who opened Kyoto's first cat cafe in 2008 with 13 stray kittens (and the ancient city is 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," Cat Cafe Nekokaigi manager 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 $4 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. The owner also refuses to 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: 

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