Java Cats Café, the first hybrid cat shelter and coffee shop of its kind to open in Georgia, has announced plans to open a second location on Marietta Square in May 2018.
In March 2016, Java Cats Café owner and founder Hadyn Hilton opened the original Atlanta location in Grant Park. At only 24 years old, Hilton took the huge personal risk of dropping out of Georgia State University’s film studies program to follow her lifelong passion for sheltering animals.
“I honestly didn’t know what I was doing,” Hilton said. “I just had so much passion for animal advocacy and rescue. There wasn’t a place like Java Cats in the South at the time.”
As young woman, Hilton originally wasn’t taken seriously by the local business community, but she set out to prove them wrong. In less than a year, Java Cats Café has found loving homes for more than 200 cats.
The Café is divided into two distinct sections: the coffee shop and the cat lounge. Guests can pay $10 to enter the cat lounge, and they can bring their crafted “Ameowicano,” “Pur Over” or other coffee and snacks with them. Cats roam freely around various pieces of furniture and cat towers in the lounge, and if a guest makes a connection with a cat, they can take them home on the same day. The personal time Java Cats provides gives older cats like 14-year old Rozallia a better chance at finding a home than they would in a traditional shelter.
“It’s sad for a cat to know a home all its life and then get put into a shelter,” Hilton said. “Everyone wants kittens, because they’re young and cute, but there are a lot of good reasons to adopt an older cat. They have already grown into their personalities and there’s a higher chance of them not being adopted.”
The lounge shelters up to 20 cats at a time, which are sourced from a larger shelter in Decatur called PAWS Atlanta. Money from the coffee sales and lounge entry benefits the Café, but cat adoption fees support PAWS Atlanta. Since Java Cats Café opened, PAWS Atlanta’s adoption rate has more than doubled. The new location, affectionately nicknamed “Java Cats Meowietta,” will be almost twice the size of the original and will shelter up to 30 cats. It is repurposing Cleo Coffee & Ice Cream Lab on Marietta Square.
The Atlanta Café employs four baristas and four cat caretakers. Some employees are cross-trained, but to comply with strict health regulation codes regarding mixing food with animals, the employees can’t work both jobs on the same day. Java Cats coffee comes from Atlanta-based Ebrik Coffee, and the pre-packaged food is prepared off-site by Gathering Industries, a local non-profit that teaches professional culinary skills to homeless people.
In addition to finding loving homes for cats, Java Cats has become a hub for community activities and support for local artists. The coffee shop often hosts community discussions, networking events, and showcases of local films and art. Three large murals of Hadyn’s personal cats, painted by 72-year-old mural painter Donna Howells and mandala painter Myra Shana decorate the walls of the cat lounge.
“We always try to have cool events and interesting artwork here,” Hilton said. “We’re excited to see how the new location fits into the Marietta culture.”
Now 26, Hilton has become a respected and well-known businesswoman in the Atlanta area. She already signed a lease for the Marietta Java Cats location and has launched a GoFundMe campaign to ask for help to pay for necessary renovations on the building. The campaign has already raised almost $10,000 dollars from the community after only one month. Mural artists Howells and Shana are returning to paint new cats in the lounge.