When she came to my daughter's attention, she appeared to be a scrawny, parasite-infested, injured kitten who had appeared out of nowhere in a friend's yard, having apparently crawled out from under the house next door.
Back story: Abandoned, and leaped from the attic window always open in the house in question? Thrown from the same window? They're called carpal hyperextension, these injuries that cause her to walk on her wrists rather than the pads of her feet. The vets have been mystified, but I've read that they're often caused by a jump or a fall from a great height. Shaken by a dog? Hit by a car? Her back legs and hips wobble and her tail is permanently bent. Crawled under the house to hide, and emerged only when she was almost completely lost to starvation?
Vet: Cleared of terrible feline diseases, treated for all those crawly things, given her shots and some meds, age calculated at eight years, maybe more. Not a kitten, but a starving adult.
At my daughter's: She began to grow, and coarse, rust-colored fur began to reappear in the patches from which it had fallen out, but she hid out in the basement, thanks to the predatory resident cat. It became apparent that she is totally deaf. She acquired the name Martha Washington: an old lady found on Washington Street.
Here: Marti came for a visit and ended up staying. She spent the first couple of weeks hiding under a blanket on the guest bed, coming out occasionally to gaze solemnly at me from her silent world. She kept eating, gradually learned her way around the house, and defends herself against Glinda's unfriendly attentions. Her fur continued to grow, and now it's soft and black.
Sometimes I feel such dismay for her. She can't run or roll on her back. She can't leap into a window or onto a mantle; she can barely scramble onto the couch. Her past (eight?) lives must have been sheer hell.
And then I am astonished. As damaged and abused as she has been, she is an affectionate, contented friend. She nudges my hand with her nose, reaches for my arm with her foot, and squawks a meow.