Cathy was born in Jonesboro, Georgia. He began doing radio commercials for his father's original Dwarf House restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia in the early 1960s. He earned a bachelor's degree in Business administration from Georgia Southern University in 1975, then began working for his father's company.
But in March 2014, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it had been a "mistake" for the WinShape Foundation to "support political or social agendas", and had been working with LGBT Activist Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride since 2012. Windmeyer stated that WinShape and the Chick-fil-A Foundation had "dramatically" cut donations to groups gay marriage supporters consider anti-gay. Cathy stated that "While we evaluate individual donations on an annual basis, our giving is focused on three key areas: youth and education, leadership and family enrichment and serving the local communities in which we operate," the company said at the time. "Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years. The Chick-fil-A culture and Service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect and to serve great food with genuine hospitality."