Interview! Haydn Hilton, Owner of Java Cats Cafe in Atlanta, GA

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“If I would have known how much work a cat cafe was, I might have turned around, but the cats are where the magic is. They market the coffee shop all by themselves when people walk by!”

Meet 26-year-old Haydn Hilton, owner of Java Cats Cafe. This is Georgia’s first cat cafe in the heart of Atlanta and definitely wasn’t where Haydn expected to find herself! Initially going to school to be part of the film industry, she dropped everything to start this business and now enjoys giving advice and mentoring other female entrepreneurs looking to start a business in a male-dominated society. Her business also support local charities and she enjoys being a positive influencer on social media.

Because her cafe can’t cook their own food directly in the cafe, Haydn farms out the work to a local homeless charity, where the people work in a kitchen creating the food that the cafe receives on a daily basis. What a great way of giving back to the local community!

Haydn was always involved in animal rescue growing up. It’s in her blood to be very caring towards animals. When she was younger, she spent about a year doing TNR with her family at a neighbor’s abandoned barn that had a large population of barn cats left behind. The cats ended up hanging out at her family’s house after that and the 20 cats that stayed were like a dream come true to Haydn. She developed a real passion of working with feral cats to tame and nurture them.

But she didn’t expect to make a career out of it! She was a senior at Georgia State and was in a film class, where she learned about a cat cafe and was immediately drawn to the idea.She quit school, left her job, learned how to be a barista and started the long journey of opening up Atlanta’s first cat cafe!

Java Cats Cafe is heavily regulated and cats are partitioned in a completely different area. People come into the coffee shop portion, where they can purchase what they want to eat or drink, or just pay a fee to go straight into the cat area. People than can sit in a room with up to 20 cats that are all up for adoption. Who wouldn’t love that?! The fee is than used to help support the local shelters that supplies the cats in the cafe.

Haydn also discusses the entrepreneurial struggle and how hard it was being a woman to just get into renting spaces. She had a really hard time getting taken seriously, which has caused her to start awoman’s entrepreneurial group at Java Cats to make sure that other women can find the support they need. She wants people to feel safe to share the struggles of what happens trying to open the business, while potentially finding a much needed mentor.She also does special activities and events in the cafe. Woman’s clothing swap, game nights, paint class, movie night, documentary series, and many other things that brings the community and women together with a bunch of different interests to support the cause.

Haydn also discussed the pros and cons with using Kickstarter to help raise her initial equity.Because she wanted to get things open, she needed to get money on the table ASAP. She also wanted the publicity to make sure she was being taken seriously. Which worked. However, between taxes, fees and other things that get taken out, you need to make sure it’s actually worth going through the work of setting up a crowdfunding area.

She completely believes in the idea of cat cafes, though. Java Cats Cafe has already doubled the adoption rate with cats with PAWS Atlanta. People can see them right away and have a more natural exposure that happens at the cafe. It’s more of a playground for cats, rather than the sad environment many shelters tend to have. It’s a game changer for cat adoption!

Learn more about Java Cats Cafe at their website,, or on Instagram and Facebook.

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