EDMONDS — These cats are on the move.
From table to table, lap to lap. Or nap to nap.
The furry attractions at The Kitty Catfe are slated for an even bigger move.
Owner Kristina Robinson is looking for a new spot for her lounge where people pay to mingle with cats and maybe take one home. She said her rented space in Firdale Village Shopping Plaza will be used for the expansion of a neighboring business.
Donations and the $5 entrance fees have barely covered operating costs since her husband cashed in his retirement savings two years ago to fund the opening of The Kitty Catfe, jumping on a trend from Asia of venues that offer food and felines. The trend has since expanded to cafes and bars with hedgehogs and reptiles.
Robinson plans to stick with cats who need homes and people who need cats.
“It’s my calling,” she said.
She has tax-exempt nonprofit status from the IRS for what she considers a cat rescue offering adoptions as much as a cat cafe.
There are several cat cafes in King County. She wants to stay in Snohomish County and is looking for a minimum 1,000 square feet and a maximum rent of $1,500.
And lots of windows.
“That’s their TV,” she said.
Her focus is more on the cats, not the eats, which are prepackaged.
There are 19 cats, ready to stare you down, shed on your sweater or paw at your shoe strings. To the cats, you are the entertainment, not them.
Nine are resident cats. The 10 others are available to take home for a $150 fee that includes a vet checkup.
Cats arrive weekly by bus from a rescue in California.
The center, open daily except Monday, hosts events such as story hour, paint-and-sip classes, birthday parties and field trips.
It has tables, benches, cat towers and a screen for movie nights.
Robinson, 35, a high-energy mother of three children, 3, 8 and 9, doesn’t bring the cats home at night. An app-based interactive pet camera allows her to keep an eye on the clan and talk to them. The device can even toss out treats.
She relies on a volunteer crew that includes teens, seniors and people with autism and special needs.
One woman, a client at Washington Vocational Services for people with disabilities, arrives twice a week to do tasks.
“She loves coming here,” said Sydney Kinal, her job coach.
On a recent day, the client made the rounds petting, brushing and feeding the cats. Then she got a canned soda from the front counter and took a break. One cat joined her, then another moseyed over.
“She has her routine,” Robinson said.
So, too, do the two 4-year-old friends that Lake Forest Park nanny Meryl Baker brings to The Kitty Catfe.
The girl and boy in her care each plucked a feather teaser wand toy from the wall and scurried into the sea of cats.
The girl’s mom is allergic to cats, so she is catless. The boy has a cat at home. But only one cat, not 19 to play with.
“All the cats here are so friendly,” Baker said. “We stay way longer than we expect. A good hour at least.”