September 27, 2011 01:00 PM

It took 8 long years, but it was worth the wait: Duchess the cat has a forever home.

The tabby mix had been living at the Will County Humane Society in Shorewood, Illi., since 2003 after her owners abandoned her in an apartment with one of her kittens. Last month, a local woman who discovered the elderly cat on decided to bring her home.

Duchess, now 12, lived nearly a decade at the shelter, so long that she acquired some special privileges. “She had the right to walk around the cat room at night,” says shelter volunteer Patty Danko.

Despite her sweet and affectionate personality, the fluffy 10-lb. feline, who lost an eye to an infection in 2005, couldn’t seem to connect with potential adopters over the years.

“Because she was older and kind of quiet, she wasn’t one to come up to you,” Danko explains. “So she got overlooked for that.”

She spent the past eight years making a name for herself in the cat room, where volunteers kept her comfortable with soft fleece blankets and she kept them laughing with her amazing trick.

“When she was done with people and wanted to be left alone,” Danko says. “She would actually go into her cage and pull the cage door shut with her paw.”

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