Alex the Cat Groomer says confidence is key to keeping his customers calm. “The cat senses if you’re nervous," Perry says." If you know what you’re doing, you’re relaxed.” Perry is busy, working seven days a week, almost 12 hours a day.

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Remus the cat is a long-haired 22-pounder.

He can be “difficult. Not really friendly,” says his owner, Janet Loriz. “He does not like to be groomed at home.”

So he’s a first-time visitor to Alex Perry’s shop in Woodinville. Better known as Alex the Cat Groomer, Perry has given Remus a rough shave and two shampoos. The first is to degrease. Then an ear cleaning, nail trim, full comb-out and blowout.

He drapes Remus over his arms, upside down, wherever he needs to move him.

You’d think the cat had been given sedatives. But, Perry says, no sedatives are necessary, just the groomer’s confidence.

“The cat senses if you’re nervous,” Perry says.” If you know what you’re doing, you’re relaxed.”

And this cat is relaxed.

In the compact, organized work space is a framed poster of a dog reading “All About Cats” who appears to be watching over the procedures.

There are a few low moans — maybe they’re growls, could be purrs. It’s hard to tell, but Remus is in full compliance.

Perry worked in construction before he became a cat groomer. The housing bubble burst in 2008, and finding work at a decent wage was a challenge.

In 2011, he quit everything and was “thinking hard about what’s next.”

He began grooming cats around 2011 while volunteering for Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue. That led to being a groomer at a cat-only boarding facility and “really honing my craft.”

Five years ago he bought the cat-grooming part of the business. From there his reputation and the business “continued to grow at an exponential rate.”

It’s not without the occasional hazard. He estimates about once a year he’ll be bitten. Sometimes he’ll get clawed. But bandages don’t line the grooming table.

And he’s fully booked. Right now, Perry says, he’s working seven days a week, almost 12 hours a day.

“It’s hard work. I’d put it right up there with construction.”  

But, “I do what I enjoy for a living.”