. . . as told by Dr. Holland . . .
I was a fourth year veterinary student rotating through small animal medicine; I came in the day after Thanksgiving and I was assigned to the fluid ward. I was taking over cases from the previous student. My new case was an 8 week old domestic short hair kitten - an orange tabby. He was non-responsive, laying on his side, eyes open, both pupils constricted. He had very deformed ears, and his eyes also had blood crusting at the edges.
He had been brought in on Thanksgiving day, through the emergency clinic, by two adults who worked at University of Pennsylvania. They said he was normal in the morning and flat out at dinnertime. The vet who had admitted him said the owners thought he had been hiding under the hot water heater and that was how his ears had been burned, and why they were deformed.
As I assessed him, I was taken aback that he could still eat if you gently syringe-fed him. Later that day, we learned that the owner's pre-teen boys had put him in a microwave and microwaved him until he cried. The owners were given a very poor prognosis by the internist (supervising doctor) who I was assigned to, and they elected to euthanize him. I asked the internist to call the owners and ask if they would sign the kitten over to me. They agreed.
I consider that the day I became a veterinarian. That day I changed as a person as well. I eventually decided on the name David - meaning "beloved" in Hebrew. He was my beloved.
It took 3 weeks for David to come out of his semi-comatose state. I took 3 months to litter train him. He had a condition called lissencephalopathy, meaning as he grew, his brain never developed the "hills and valleys" that it should have; instead it was completely smooth on the surface. He later developed seizures, and he never got his sight back (his brain sustained too much radiation trauma) - but it never slowed him down.
I took David on because what happened to him just wasn't fair; he deserved a chance. For 10 years, he showed me that I'd made the right call by being a happy, loving cat. He lived his normal life, and never resented it. He was devoted to me, and had a great sense of humor. David was everything that's best about cats, even though he'd suffered because of the worst part of human nature.
David's seizures eventually become uncontrollable, and I didn't want him to suffer. He changed my perspective on life, and I still miss him. David is my inspiration to do what I can to give every animal a chance at a good quality of life.