Ilya Smirnov’s cat cafe project saved 250 felines from the streets of Moscow, finding homes for 180 of them. Loyal followers come every week, but with Moscow’s lockdown, Smirnov had to beg his landlord to let him delay the $4,000 monthly rent. (Roman Petrov)

At the heart of every small enterprise is a dream, and Ilya Smirnov's is crazier than most.


Kostik was rescued after being hit by a car. (Ilya Smirnov)

It’s suppertime at the Kotissimo cat cafe in Moscow. Vet and food bills are piling up. The rent needs to be paid. But there’s no money coming in. (Ilya Smirnov)

A decorative touch in Kotissimo. (Roman Petrov)

Ilya Smirnov got a $27,000 loan to start his dream business, Kotissimo, Moscow’s largest cat cafe. (Roman Petrov)

Pedestrians walk in view of cranes on a construction site in Moscow International Business Center, also known as Moscow City, in Moscow, on April 28, 2020. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

A woman walks along the Arbat in Moscow, toward a building decorated with a mural depicting a Soviet World War II commander, as city workers clean and disinfect the area in mid-April. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP Via Getty Images)

?Natasha Abbakumova contributed to this report.