A Snowflake in My Hand

I don’t often re-read books, but a handful of cat books that have become such treasures, I read them again and again. When I recently re-read Samantha Mooney’s A Snowflake in My Hand, I thought it was time to share it with you again. Few books have left such an impression on me, and this little book became pivotal to a significant turning point in my life.

First published in 1983, and set at New York City’s famous Animal Medical Center, Samantha Mooney shares stories of her time working in the center’s oncology ward. I’ve always thought it takes a special person to be able to handle working with cancer patients, and the stories Mooney shares will stay with you long after you finish the book. But most of all, this is a story about the cats she encounters during her work there: Clancy, a tabby who refuses to stay in a cage, Oliver Cromwell, who summers in Maine and makes friends with his own personal sea gull; and many many others. And then there’s that one cat in the book that will touch your heart the most: Fledermaus, a tiny black cat who breaks through the author’s grief after her father’s death and gently opens her heart to love again.

This book is a testament to all that cats bring into our lives. And even though veterinary medicine has advanced beyond anything we could have imagined in 1983, this book is still relevant, or perhaps, even more relevant now, since it focuses on treating the whole patient and the patient’s human, not just the disease. The writing is lyrical, almost poetic at times.

She is with me, as real as the winter snow that blends the tears upon my face. And it is only when I try to touch her, to make her linger yet awhile, that she dies all over again. A snowflake in my hand, she is like a fragment of a melody that I find myself humming unawares. …While somewhere else, as I now say goodbye again, as shadows of my shadow pass before me, somewhere else a cat leaps to the windowsill to greet the morning sun.

The book’s cover features a beautiful watercolor painted by the author. My own copy has the original cover with the entire painting.


I hold this book responsible for my love of veterinary medicine. Even though it would take another ten years for me to start working in veterinary clinics, I would always think of this book as I started to experience the incredible joy and  profound sadness that exist side by side in the veterinary profession.

A Snowflake in My Hand is available from Amazon.


What are some of your most treasured cat books?

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16 Comments on A Snowflake in My Hand

  1. Karen Lucas
    May 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm (1 week ago)

    Oh I love this book too. Thank you so much

  2. Dorothy Scanlan
    May 1, 2021 at 12:33 pm (1 week ago)

    Oh my gosh! I love this book so much–just thinking about it makes me teary-eyed. I have it in my cat book collection. I should re-read it this summer. I wonder if Samantha Mooney is still living…

    • Nancy West
      May 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm (1 week ago)

      I was wondering the same thing about Samantha Mooney!

      • Ingrid
        May 2, 2021 at 3:59 am (1 week ago)

        I periodically google her and nothing comes up. 🙁

        • Nancy West
          May 2, 2021 at 5:14 pm (1 week ago)

          Oh dear…

  3. Timmy Tomcat
    April 30, 2021 at 1:44 pm (2 weeks ago)

    We have that book in our cat library and really loved it. It is a wonderful read so if anyone wants a very solid book please give this a go

  4. Nancy West
    April 30, 2021 at 1:01 pm (2 weeks ago)

    This book, along with “Buckley’s Story,” are my two, all-time favorite books about cats. I purchased multiple copies of each to give as gifts to my cat-loving friends. Of course, just looking at the cover of “Snowflake in My Hand” makes me weep. (As does “Buckley’s Story!”) I read both books at the time I was embarking on cat rescue work, and they helped to deepen my spiritual connection to the cats I was caring for. I cannot recommend “A Snowflake in My Hand” AND “Buckley’s Story” highly enough!! Thank you for posting and getting the word out! Every cat lover should read these books!

    • Ingrid
      April 30, 2021 at 3:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Oh Nancy, I’m so honored that you’re mentioning Buckley’s Story in the same sentence as A Snowflake in My Hand! Buckley is surely smiling, too!

      • Nancy West
        May 2, 2021 at 5:17 pm (1 week ago)

        Truly, these are my two favorite cat books ever. I tear-up just thinking about them. They are both classics!

  5. Pamela Tomlinson
    April 30, 2021 at 10:11 am (2 weeks ago)

    Ingrid – Thank you for reminding me . . . . I care for a colony in Herndon, VA and am just now embarking on a huge project of stray cats in Upperville, VA. It feels overwhelming, but these cats need help. Thanks for reminding me why I do what I do while working a full time job and caring for all my cats, fosters, and ferals.

  6. Dick Weavil
    April 30, 2021 at 9:22 am (2 weeks ago)

    Of all the books that I’ve read about cats and their humans in my 45 years of loving and being owned by cats (27 being my own furkids and hundreds more that I’ve rescued), I’ve read and read again many times this wonderful and inspiring story. It still, after more than three decades, brings tears to my eyes. It’s a sad but beautiful story, and now, I’m going to read it and be inspired yet again. Thank you, Ingrid, for reminding me of this great book. Anyone who loves cats should read it.

  7. CarolMcK
    April 30, 2021 at 8:43 am (2 weeks ago)

    I first read this book back in the late ‘80s … it’s a must read for any cat lover. I hit me in a most powerful way and has stayed with me all this time. Oh Fledermaus ….

  8. T. J. Banks
    April 30, 2021 at 7:18 am (2 weeks ago)

    I read this book back in the 180s, and it has stayed with me ever since. It is one of the most moving depictions of the love between a cat and a human. After reading your review, Ingrid, I think it’s time to break out my copy and re-read it.

  9. Janine
    April 30, 2021 at 6:47 am (2 weeks ago)

    This sounds like a very special book. Thanks for the recommendation!

  10. Maria T
    April 30, 2021 at 2:18 am (2 weeks ago)

    After I first read about this book here on Conscious Cat a few years ago, I ordered my own copy from Amazon and I absolutel adore it! I might just re-read it as well, thank you for the tip.

  11. Eleanor Skibo
    April 30, 2021 at 1:47 am (2 weeks ago)

    What a beautiful short piece from ‘A Snowflake in My Hand’. Samantha must be a very special person to remember those who are about to leave life and enter death, in this special special way her heart describes the suffering some people endure so courageously.


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