Rachel is a reporter/contributor for the AJT and graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. After post graduate work at Columbia University, she teaches writing at Georgia State and hosts/produces cable programming. She can currently be seen on Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters.
Founder Hadyn Hilton holds Jupiter, one of her favorite Java Cats residents.
The residents of Java Cats Cafe are making Atlanta history. As the first cat cafe in Atlanta and only the third in the South, Java Cats is adding adoptable cats to the city’s standard stop for coffee.
Following the model of other cat cafes in the United States, Java Cats enables visitors not only to visit with the cafe’s cats while having coffee at the shop at 415 Memorial Drive, but also to adopt them.
Java Cats founder Hadyn Hilton partnered with PAWS Atlanta, a Georgia no-kill dog and cat shelter, to provide cats that need homes, as well as the screenings to make sure they are people-friendly. Up to 20 PAWS cats at a time stay at the cafe.
Customers can make a reservation or walk in. People can visit the cat lounge to spend time with the cats or stay in the separate cafe area and watch everything, from small kittens to older cats to special-needs felines, inside the glass-walled area.
Java Cats visitor Kit Matheny holds one of the newer kittens at Java Cats.
Java Cats charges $10 per hour for customers to spend time in the lounge with the cats and for drip coffee, iced coffee or tea to take inside with them.
“I absolutely love what I’m doing,” she said. “I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of these cats, and being able to support the local homeless community is also really cool. I want Java Cats to not only be a feel-good place, but a competitive player in the Atlanta coffee scene as well.”
The interior of the cafe is cat-free, but patrons can watch the cats through a glass divider.
Since its opening March 27, the cafe has adopted out more than 50 cats. Hilton credits the success in part to the cafe’s dedicated social media following and in part to the cats themselves.
“They’re family- and kid-friendly cats who just love interaction with people and need attention,” she said. “You see people walk into the lounge, they put their phones away, and they’re talking to each other and really bonding with these cats. It’s also a great form of therapy or stress relief.”
Of course, Hilton has favorites. Jupiter is a shy, sweet, needy black cat that often hides and comes out when he hears her voice. Yahtzee and Twister are petite cats and rarely are found without each other.
Although it’s easy to get attached, the mission is clear: The cats are being adopted, and the Atlanta community has the opportunity to enjoy them.