As a canine and feline photographer, I wish I could change the way some people think about disabled cats,” says Animal Scene regular Che Vienes. The vivacious young photographer says she is working to “…change the mindset of dividing cats into classes of worse and beautiful, and wish that people would treat disabled cats [as] normal.”

Monty is unable to move his rear legs. He was adopted from PAWS last July 16, 2016. Despite his disabilities, Monty is an award-winning cat, taking the “Hali-meow” award for the Best Native Cat in Costume at the 2016 Scaredy Cats & Dogs event.

This photo series, with disabled cats in Christmas outfits, is entitled “Healing Hearts” because “…a healing heart does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

And that healing isn’t limited to fellow humans, Che firmly believes. “Cats with special needs can be loved for who they are and the special joy they bring to our lives.” Hence this photography project.

Fur parent Bing Lim,who cares for several such cats, shared their lives with Che. She told their stories to Che as well. First, there’s Mad Eye, the blind one, rescued on November 6, 2008 and adopted from PAWS. Bing’s gentleness and patience gave Mad Eye a perfect fur-ever home.

“I have tried my best to capture the fact that, regardless [of] their disabilities, their behavior is just like that of any other normal cat,” she explains. Che also dispels a common misconception when it comes to disabled cats: they don’t require care 24 hours a day—their care is basically the same as that for a normal cat. “These felines play the same way…[they meow the same way] as well, and despite their disabilities and illnesses, they’re just like any normal cat.”

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s April 2017 issue.