City Kitty owner John Schwartz trims Andy the cat at the salon, City Kitty, in the Firdale Village Shopping Plaza. He purchased the salon last December. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Fur flies: Salon for cats in Edmonds is a big hairy deal

It’s not every day you hear about a cat getting a blueberry facial and a shave.

So my ears perked up when Herald multimedia sales consultant Tara Raimey was talking about a $100 beauty treatment for her cat, a long-haired 26-pounder named Lil’ Baby.

“Lil’ Baby felt better. And he smelled better,” Raimey said. “He looked like a beached sea otter.”

A beauty shop for cats. What’s up with that?

She takes Lil’ Baby to City Kitty, a cat salon in a quaint, suburban Edmonds shopping plaza.

The day I went, I witnessed the shaving of a gray-and-white matted fuzzball named Andy.

The cat’s vet-prescribed tranquilizer was no match for the buzz of electric clippers. Andy raised a hissy fit as the drug slowly kicked in.

“This one’s a bit of a firecracker,” said John Schwartz, the man wearing armored gloves and doing the barbering.

Fur flew. It wasn’t pretty, not before or during. The after was cute, though. Andy had a sleek body and a mane, for a style called a lion cut.

Andy wasn’t the first feisty feline City Kitty has seen, though most cats don’t need a tranquilize and after a few visits enjoy the pampering as much as Lil’ Baby does.

Schwartz purchased the cats-only salon last December from Adrienne Kawamura, who started City Kitty 17 years ago after working in the cat show world.

She stayed around to train him as a cat groomer. Schwartz’s background is in cars, not cats.

“I came from the collision industry. I sold automotive paint and painted cars. I was an insurance adjuster most recently,” said Schwartz, 31, of Woodinville.

“My wife, Sara, and I were looking for a business to buy. It was really across the board — ice cream shop, fence company. This came up. I was kind of unsure at first … cat grooming? Even now when I tell people what we do they are like, ‘Don’t cats lick themselves?’”

Yep, but some require suds and blades.

“It’s a much-needed service,” he said.

The office in Firdale Village Shopping Plaza is lined with files of cat clients that Schwartz is learning to care for under Kawamura’s guidance. The salon has stations for washing, drying and clipping. You know, like any salon.

Firdale Village is a unique plaza. In addition to eateries, shops, a community theater and the usual services, there’s a dog wash, cat cafe, pet sitter, canine aquatic therapy center and a diner where dogs sit at tables to eat off plates.

When Kawamura first opened the salon, she didn’t have as much furry company.

“I started out with a $12 blow dryer and a plastic lawn chair because people thought I was crazy,” she said. “This was the first cat grooming business in the nation dedicated exclusively to cats. There are more cats in households now than dogs. Most people can’t handle grooming their cats. They say, ‘Well, I tried to do it at home.’ I go, ‘That’s why I don’t work on my car.’ The grooming part is not that hard, it’s the handling of the cat.”

And the way cats respond with claws.

“Cats have four weapons of mass destruction,” Kawamura said. “With dogs, if you can control their mouth, you are pretty much safe.”

Even though she sold City Kitty, Kawamura is not retiring. She wants to sell franchises of City Kitty nationwide and help train new owners.

On a recent day, nine cats got a beauty makeover at City Kitty.

“We are a full service salon,” Schwartz said. “We don’t do any a la carte services. The basic package is a bath and groom. We do a quick toothbrushing, clean their ears, trim their claws. Check them over. Get them into the bath and do at least two full shampoo baths and express their anal glands. Then blow-dry them out and do a conditioning spray. That starts at $70 for a short-hair bath and groom. The lion cut starts at $95.”

Is this at all like cars?

“Yes and no,” he said.

“I come from a real production-oriented environment where you are always trying to get things done and through on a schedule. The way we have our work stations set up, some of the concepts of that transfer over.

“Much is repeat business. We get people on a schedule. Get rid of the fur. Or maybe they have allergies or just like the cat clean and not shedding as much.”

The past four months have left their mark.

“I’ve been bitten. I’ve been scratched. I’ve started wearing BiteBuster gloves to protect my arms,” he said. “You get peed on. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.”

It’s good training for their next big addition.

He and Sara are expecting their first child on Labor Day.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Life

Low-cal craft beer becomes vital during the quarantine

Don’t reach for the Michelob Ultra Light just yet. We tasted 18 beers and picked the winners and losers.

Ask Dr. Paul: Adjusting to the new normal with COVID-19

Here are some tips to help you embrace and cope with our new way of living in a pandemic world.

Jump on the everything bagel bandwagon with this zesty salad

If Whole Foods is sold out of the seasoning mix, relax — you can make it yourself.

Need a fun weekend quarantine project? Try citrus marmalade

The preserves are as delicious spooned on toast as they are over grilled pork or chicken.

Rick Steves on Pompeii, Italy’s frozen-in-time Roman city

The volcanic ash that destroyed the city also ensured its remarkable preservation, down to the folds on victims’ togas.

Keep frozen bay scallops on hand for a sweet quarantine dinner

The dish can be ready to eat in less than 15 minutes — even including the time to defrost the shrimp.

Traveler wants full refund after virus halts flight to Vegas

Southwest Airlines agreed to a refund, but didn’t include the EarlyBird option that he paid for.

Local Girl Scouts adapt to the pandemic by scouting at home

The coronavirus isn’t stopping these Snohomish County girls from earning badges and awards.

2020 Nissan Altima is quiet, comfortable, and fuel efficient

One year after a complete redesign, more safety features have been added to lower-cost models in lineup.

Most Read