It’s about that time of year again when Atlanta local’s will need a cuddle buddy and a cup of iced joe. The Java Cat Café is Atlanta’s premiere cat café and the third one to open in the south. For those who may be unaware as to what a cat café is, the Java Cat Café explains it best. According to the business’s website, “A cat café is, essentially, a café where you can not only enjoy your favorite cup of coffee, but have a purfectly good time in a room full of cats (and this is a magical experience!)”.
The early cup of java
The owner of the Java Cat Café, Hadyn Hilton, expresses that the early beginnings of the business started off as a college research paper that turned into an idea. Hilton was a junior studying film at Georgia State University when she first discovered cat cafés through her research on the YouTube cat video phenomenon. From there it was all history.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it, especially since I am a passionate cat lover and animal lover, and decided I would go for it. Dropped out of school with 8 classes left to graduate, quit my job of 2 years, and started working at Ebrik coffee to learn the skills I would need for Java Cats while I worked to get the doors opened,” Hilton said.
The café is now a full functioning coffee shop that serves turkish coffee, lattes, teas and prepackaged food. The café includes the partitioned cat lounge where guests can make a reservation, enjoy cat therapy and adopt a furry friend on site.
Without a doubt, despite the odds
Hilton explains how difficult getting the initial idea off the ground was:
“It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my 25 years of living,” Hilton said.
Hilton said the hardest part was parting ways with her comfort zone and her life of routine to do something that she was completely unfamiliar with. She immediately found mentors who, in their own ventures failed and succeeded, and were willing to hold her hand through the process. She went to many departments in Atlanta to talk and ask questions, and was passed around for several weeks while she gathered information to move forward.
“City Hall was very difficult to work with. They lost my plans multiple times which costed me time and money. But I finally got in touch with the right people who fought for me to get my permits and after 4 months of fighting, we received permits and began our buildout process. I learned very quickly that it is not easy to open a small business, especially being a 25-year-old female who wants to open a cat café. I was treated differently being a woman entrepreneur and not many people took my idea seriously,” Hilton said.
Despite the struggle it took to get there, Java Cats is now a fully running café.
The main mission
A major part of the café’s mission is to find adoptable cats a home and give Atlanta’s homeless community a chance to get back on their feet. This is proven true through the effort put into caring for the cats, as well as the humanization of Atlanta’s homeless community. All the cats come out of PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill animal shelter and pet rescue in the city of Atlanta, and the café only takes in child friendly kittens that will thrive in a cat lounge setting.
“One cat that was overlooked at PAWS for over a year was adopted within two days of being here. Two cats that we currently have were not used to being loved on and they were timid around people. Within a week they are learning to love affection and trust people. They are loving the lounge and they have completely transformed,” Hilton said.
Java Cat Café has a paid lounge employee who cleans and sanitizes the room throughout the shift, feed the cats as well as monitor human and cat interactions.
“We always prioritize that our cats are never stressed or harassed, and our cat lounge employee ensures this,” Hilton said.
For those potential customers who may feel uneasy with the idea of eating in a cat café the owner ensures those individuals that the cat café is highly regulated.
“I was put through every challenge and faced every hurdle that the city could throw at me. We could not have opened if we did not follow sanitary regulations and health codes—the city is no joke. We passed our inspections and followed every guideline to receive our proper documentation and permits to open. The cat lounge is completely separated from the coffee side. We have separate ventilation, two double door entrances so cats can’t escape into the café, and a lounge employee who only cleans the lounge to avoid cross contamination of hair. We want customers to just come here for coffee or lunch as well! By supporting us, we are supporting two nonprofits! All food is prepackaged off site,” Hilton said.
The café has a partnership with a non-profit organization called The Gathering. Through this partnership all pre-packaged items are crafted by the homeless men and women employed through The Atlanta Mission. As a result, they are taught the culinary skills needed to find jobs in the restaurant industry to get back on their feet.
Ordering ahead, the future
Hilton said in regards to the future, she wants to live past the hype.
“Right now we have been in all the media which has been fantastic! But my goals are to have regulars, steady adoptions and make a difference. I want to partner with elderly homes in the community and host cat therapy sessions for the elderly. Things like that,” Hilton said.
Beverages include lattes to Turkish coffee.
Health conscious options include fresh gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian wraps made daily
Desserts made from scratch include granola bars, cookies, and gluten free chocolate peanut butter bars, all of which are made by Atlanta’s homeless employees of “The Gathering” Industries.
Hours of operation & Contact