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'They don't think they're handicapped'

The stitches are out for two sight-impaired shelter kittens who are recovering nicely from eyelid surgery performed gratis by local veterinarians on Jan. 2. But Monique and Seus have yet to line up their permanent home.

"It's definitely going to take a very special adopter to take the two of them, that's for sure," said Kristina Lanier, shelter manager for Committed Alliance to Strays.

The two kittens, both born with a congenital defect in which they were missing parts of their eyelids, were discovered by workers in the lumber yard at Hubbard's Hardware.

"They were moving their lumber when they saw the kittens," Lanier said. "There were more in the litter, but they were only able to catch two of them."

The love and care they received from Hubbard's staff before they were brought to the C.A.T.S. shelter had a positive impact on the kittens' personality, Lanier said.

"Even with the condition that they had, they were pretty happy little kitties," Lanier said. "Obviously they had nothing but love before they got into our program."

That love continues with the kittens' "foster parents" Marilyn and Leo Kimm, who take on the daily care of some of the shelter's more acute cases.

The Kimms dote over all five of the cats currently in their home, but particularly Monique, who is healing from her advanced lip-to-lid transposition surgery donated by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Cassandra Bliss and veterinarian Dr. Tami Rogers. Monique's recovery includes warm compresses twice a day at the site of her grafts and daily lubricating drops to supplement tear production until her next checkup in two months.

"They get a lot of love," Marilyn said.

Seus, whose painful, blind eyes were removed, socializes with the other cats in the Kimms' east Medford home — two males and a female, plus his sister Monique.

"They don't think they're handicapped," Leo said as Seus scampered on a play structure in the living room. 

"He's the most social of all of them," Marilyn said, noting that Seus particularly seems to enjoy an older female cat named Sasha. 

Monique also has adapted well to the social environment of the Kimms' home, bonding with Mikey, an older male cat, in particular.

"She will try to follow Mikey everywhere," Leo Kimm said.

As siblings from the same litter, Seus and Monique groom each other and play together, and Monique continues to serve as Seus' "seeing-eye" kitten, despite poor eyesight in one of her eyes.

For the Kimms, caring for these animals is a labor of love.

"We don't have children or grandchildren," Leo said. "We have great-grandkitties."

To whomever ends up adopting the pair, the Kimms intend to donate top-quality food, toys that make noise and the adoption fees.

"C.A.T.S. would provide it, but we want to do it ourselves because we love them," Marilyn said.

Shelter workers will interview potential new owners and inspect their homes to ensure a safe, loving environment for the sight-impaired kittens.

Monique and Seus always will have a home, though, even if no one steps forward to adopt them.

"If it comes down to that, we'd find a way to keep them," Marilyn said.

 Reach newsroom assistant Nick Morgan at nmorgan@mailtribune.com.

Marilyn Kimm of Medford towels off Monique after a bath. The kitten and her brother Seus are recovering from eyelid surgery. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch