Opuntias grow with water, right temperatures, right soil and sufficent attention.
They show a remarkable abilty to come back from cold, scorching heat or neglect. But if you treat them well, they will surprise you with growth, flowers and some more growth.
This plant has been in my possesion for a looong time. It only flowered the last years. Being not very knowledgeable on tephrocactus, it might not be the correct name.