Atlanta finally got its first cat cafe in March 2017, and the city's cat lovers couldn't be happier.
While 26-year-old Hadyn Hilton was slated for a career in the film industry, a late-night distraction when she was supposed to be writing a research paper changed her path. The paper was on YouTube cat videos, and while she was researching, she came across information about a cat cafe in Taiwan.
She told Wide Open Pets:
"I had never heard of a cat café, and from that moment I became obsessed and sidetracked from my paper to investigate further. Once I found out there were around 15, maybe 20 at the time in the US, but none in the South, it was kind of like a revelation."
She seriously considered the sacrifices and changes she'd need to make for this new dream to come true, but in November 2015, she decided to go for it. Hilton set out to open Java Cats Cafe, the first cat cafe in the Atlanta area.
To get started, Hilton spoke to cat behavioral specialists, teamed up with the city's oldest no-kill shelter, and set to work finding and designing the perfect space. On opening day, there was a line of people waiting outside. That initial enthusiasm hasn't wavered, and cat lovers travel across states to sip coffee and cuddle cats in the uniquely-designed Java Cats cat lounge.
With vertical climbing space on every wall and hideaways for the cats to explore, the cat lounge is a cozy cat paradise. There are fluffy beds scattered around the floor and on tables, plenty of cat toys strewn around the place, and there are areas where the cats can go when they're tired of socializing.
Cat behavioral specialists from Fundamentally Feline designed the space, and everything in it is custom made. The cats enjoy their freedom to explore the cat room, and the human visitors appreciate the comfy couches and industrial vibe.
While playing with cats with a cup of great coffee in your hand is enough of an attraction to get people through the door, Java Cat's fundamental goal is to help homeless cats find new homes. They've partnered with PAWS Atlanta, and all the cats in the lounge are available for adoption. They live full-time at Java Cats with free-range of the lounge until that special person comes around to adopt them. Hilton said;
"The average stay for a cat here is about 2-3 weeks. Some stay longer and some are adopted within the first hour of being here. "
In the short time they've been in business, Java Cats has seen 144 cats to new forever homes. They're cats of all ages, backgrounds, and personalities that came to the cafe to keep them out of the animal shelter. The cat lounge provides a comforting and more natural environment than a shelter, and the adoptable cats benefit from socialization with both other felines and their human house guests.
A portion of their proceeds also goes to Gathering Industries, a non-profit benefitting homeless individuals by training them in the culinary arts to prepare them for future jobs. With their culinary skills, homeless people get a chance to start over. Talk about the coolest cat cafe in the country!
Atlanta's first cat cafe wasn't what Hilton expected to do with her career, but with three cats, two dogs, and five foster kittens at home, it was a natural decision. She set out to help her community, and Java Cats is having a positive impact for both cats and people in her local area. To anyone else wanting to make a difference she says;
"Seek mentors and go for it! Don't just sit on an idea, go after it. Believe in yourself and focus on doing good."
Check out Java Cats Cafe on Facebook and Instagram to get a glimpse inside the coffee shop cat lounge and plan your visit. Walk-ins are always welcome! Java Cats is located at: 415 Memorial Dr SE C, Atlanta, Georgia. Now Atlanta can join other cities famous for their cat cafes like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Chicago, and Austin.
Are you ready to take a trip to a cat cafe? Let us know in the comments.
WATCH NOW: Cute Cat Videos Actually Make You More Productive!