Whether you are looking for a cat to call your own or just need a pur-r-rfect place to clear your head, the Kitty Catfe is now open in Edmonds. More cat than cafe, $5 gets you in the door, where owner Kristina Robinson hands out a beverage for no extra charge. But the best catering comes from the pets, all of which look like miniature pumas, tigers and panthers, with fur of various lengths, colors and patterns.
When not sleeping, pussyfooting cautiously, or scatting about in haste, the cats all walk around very precisely as in a strut. Occasionally a cat might grunt, hiss, meow or purr.
It’s so relaxing to hang out with the cats, in fact, that patrons were overheard describing the place as “zen.” Robinson agreed. In fact, she stated that’s exactly how she had planned it.
“My interpretation of the cat cafe is to be very loungey,” she said. “That’s what I think about when I think of cats; just lounging around.”
Still, the furniture is decorated with more than lovable cats. The cushy pink benches also have zebra-striped accessories. Then there are coloring book pages and other caricatures hung on the walls. Some of artwork was colored by Robinson’s 7-year-old daughter Isabella.
Beyond cat petting and refreshing drinks, The Kitty Catfe offers items for sale such as humorous wall hangings that Robinson said were painted by local moms. She also sells T-shirts and other memorabilia — gifts that can be pur-r-rchased thanks to her partnership with Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, a foster-based animal rescue and rehab facility run by volunteers.
Kitty Catfe cats are available to adopt through the Motley Zoo, a volunteer-run, no-kill, nonprofit pet foster and adoption program. Those wishing to adopt one of the cats may approach Robinson, who keeps an iPad and a mobile phone handy, and then emails the pet adoption request to Motley Zoo.
In reply, Motley Zoo sends the application materials for adoption directly to the customer’s email address. Once the customer fills out the questionnaire and sends it back, the review process begins. Once an adoption is approved, the customer may collect their new furry family member. There is a $150 adoption fee, which covers spay or neuter costs, microchip and vaccinations.
In addition to providing a zen-like atmosphere, the Kitty Catfe offers game boards and adult coloring books for customers who want to play or draw with a cat on their laps. For the asking, Robinson will gladly share how she acquired each individual bundle of fur and she’ll discuss each pet’s personality.
One thing is for sure: Customers won’t have to worry about seeing any crawly things inside this cafe. A spider found its way indoors and a darker tabby named Zelda was quick to catch it. She left it on the floor and a copycat killer rushed in behind her to eat it.
During a recent visit to the Catfe, Karen Thompson from Kirkland was petting Zelda. Thompson said this was the first time she’d been to The Kitty Catfe, but she had been to a similar business in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The offering in Edmonds is much better, she said, because you can handle the cats like they’re your own pets and there are not as many rules for petting or time restrictions.
Customers might not realize the effort Robinson must put in to keep things amicable for both cats and humans alike. Every now and again there will be an altercation that involves hissing. Yet with every display of feline asocial aggression, the wiser cat in the argument decided to walk away, avoiding catastrophe.
“Zelda be nice!” Robinson scolded, when the popular cat hissed at another feline.
The timing of each individual cat’s activity and mood is something visitors need to remain flexible about. Some cats can begin to feel tired after too much petting and may want to withdraw after hours of play. Such behavior has Robinson constantly planning and adapting for how to make things better.
She’s thinking of allocating a color-coded system with the cat collars. A green collar would mean “go.” The friendly cat is available and ready for petting and adoption. A red collar would mean the friendly cat is up for adoption but has an application pending. A yellow collar might advise customers to give the animal space: This cat might be feeling a bit stand-offish at the moment, perhaps due to petting overload.
Then there are resident cats, not up for adoption, that prove highly social and eager to please people all day long. A brown tiger-striped tabby named Wilber is one such individual. Rubbing against visitors, she is often the first to greet them at the door. Yet Wilber’s sister, a cat named Lily, did not appreciate being so regularly socialized.
“Lily was freaking out, hissing and scratching when we brought her here,” Robinson said. Because the public setting was stressful for her, Robinson took Lily home, where the cat and Robinson’s husband bonded. Now Lily lives a very private life as a permanent fixture there.
Sophie, an up-for-adoption black short-hair, is currently the youngest kitten at the cafe. Just 16 weeks old, she fell asleep while lying on her back in the arms of Emily Anderson, a customer from Everett.
Snowy, a 6-month-old white short hair, is also up for adoption. She came to the cafe after being found in Spokane, abandoned. Rescued by Robinson’s cousin, Snowy enjoyed the affection she received from two customers who live in Lynnwood — Kelli Zoloth and her 3-year-old daughter Peyton.
In contrast to the friendliest resident cats, Harley and Beyonce both hid under the couch with Asuko, a beautiful Siamese tortoiseshell mix-breed. Then Harley, a dark muscular tabby, ran out from under the couch looking rather terrified.
“I’m not sure what to do with Harley, this may be too much for him,” Robinson admitted. She just recently acquired both Harley and his sibling, Baby, from a coworker who died of lung cancer. Unlike Harley, his sister, a brown tabby, is very social and almost always very eager to be petted.
Robinson said she hopes to place Harley in a home that’s rather quiet, perhaps with an older couple. She said the cat is very friendly at night when the store closes. Since she worries Harley may be getting a little overwhelmed by crowds, she hopes to find him a home soon.
While The Kitty Catfe is located on the second floor of the Firdale Village Shopping Plaza, and patrons must climb a series of steps like a cat climbs a tree to get to the front door, Robinson said anyone with mobility concerns can drive right up to the rear entrance. Dial 425-622-4258 and she’ll let you in through the back where there’s only a single step up from the driveway.
The Kitty Catfe is not the only furry business at Firdale Village, which has been dubbed Furdale Village due to all the animal-related businesses there. Robinson also owns Precious Paws, a doggy daycare and boarding service, located just below The Kitty Catfe.
The Kitty Catfe, 9697 Firdale Ave., Edmonds, is closed on Mondays but operates 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Tuesday through Sunday. 425-622-4258.
Note: In honor of Halloween month, the Kitty Catfe is hosting a “Scary Meowvie Night.” First showing will be for adults only, on Oct. 10, with “Pet Cemetery.” Then, on Oct. 30, children are invited to watch “Hotel Transylvania” 1 and 2. The $10 entry fee for either night will include beverage and popcorn.
— Story and photos by Tami Jackson
Tami Jackson is a freelance writer who lives in Mountlake Terrace.