In the fall of October 2015, a stray cat arrived at the Adobe Animal Hospital and Clinic in Texas after she was hit by a car. A Good Samaritan brought her to the clinic after the incident.
"Most places would've just euthanized her, but by some miracle, Duchess got lucky," Crystal Tate, an employee of the Adobe Animal Hospital, told The Dodo.
Hospital staff decided to take a chance on Duchess, a flame point Siamese, and repaired her badly broken jaw.
But Duchess' journey wasn't over yet — she remained at the clinic for a month to recover after her surgery, during which she had to eat through a feeding tube and take several different medications. Her chances for survival were slim.
But Duchess was a fighter. She managed to make it through the worst but, in the aftermath, was left with a crooked jaw, a mouth that would not open or allow her to chew and just a few teeth.
But that didn't stop Tate from falling in love with her.
"I met her the day I arrived at the clinic for my first day," Tate said. "Her mouth was just beginning to heal, the feeding tube had just been removed and she was very thin. The lowest meow caught my attention — her eyes showed so much sadness, but her purrs showed so much love and hope."
Every day, Tate spent time petting Duchess and speaking to her. When doctors asked if Tate would be interested in taking her home permanently, Tate said she knew the two of them were meant to be in each other's lives.
"I had never cared for a special needs kitty and she had never experienced life as a special needs kitty, but we've learned [together]," Tate said.
Duchess, who is currently 3 years old, now shares a home with her big brother Joshua, a Siberian husky; Peaches, a bichon; and Oliver, her cat brother.
"She has been a part of our family since [last] November and she walks around like she owns the house," Tate said, adding that Duchess has a very spunky personality and loves to knock things down regularly as part of her playtime routine.
When it comes to mealtime, Duchess can only eat canned food that's been mixed with water and blended into a soup-like texture, which she then laps up with her tongue.
"We are still learning her quirks and helping her live her new life, but we wouldn't have it any other way," Tate said. "She has had a few more procedures since coming home with me, but she is getting stronger every day and we couldn't be more proud."