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.

a-snowflake-in-my-hand

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.

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What are some of your most treasured cat books?

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28 Comments on A Snowflake in My Hand

  1. Silvia shanahan
    May 26, 2021 at 5:13 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I also wrote to the publisher for info…
    There was no obituary…this is what Britney from AMC wrote:
    Unfortunately, I do not have an obituary for Samantha Mooney but was informed by another long-term employee about her passing.
    =====I did not follow up on that information …it would be interesting to know how/who she heard that from but I don’t want to pursue it further.
    I did write to the publisher but have not heard anything.

    Reply
  2. Ingrid
    May 26, 2021 at 4:00 am (4 weeks ago)

    For those of you who have been wondering whether Samantha Mooney is still living, Silvia did a little more digging and found out from a member of the Animal Medical Center staff that she died in the 1980’s. Since she worked at AMC in the 70’s, she must have been quite young when she passed away.

    Reply
    • Dorothy Scanlan
      May 26, 2021 at 8:08 am (4 weeks ago)

      Oh my gosh!! That is so sad to learn. 🙁

      Reply
    • Nancy West
      May 26, 2021 at 10:36 am (4 weeks ago)

      Oh no! This is heartbreaking! She was such a wonderful writer and her spirit came through so strongly in her book. I wonder if she left behind any more writings? Thank you Silvia for digging deeper! I tear up just looking at the book cover. I wonder whether he publisher might know something too–especially about any other writings.

      Reply
      • Dorothy Scanlan
        May 26, 2021 at 10:48 am (4 weeks ago)

        I tear up, too! I believe this is the only book she ever wrote. What an utter tragedy that she died so young.

        Reply
        • Nancy West
          May 26, 2021 at 11:25 am (4 weeks ago)

          I agree! 🙁

          Reply
    • Maria T
      May 26, 2021 at 12:30 pm (4 weeks ago)

      That is so sad to learn, I recently tipped a couple of friends that they should read this lovely, heartwarming book and yesterday one asked me if I had any other books by the author, and I said no… and went online to see if Samantha Mooney came up as a writer of more books.

      As energy doesn’t vanish, just appear in another form, I believe that Samantha – wherever her energy is – are feeling/watching us reading, and re-reading, her book.

      Reply
      • Nancy West
        May 26, 2021 at 1:38 pm (4 weeks ago)

        Yes, that is a lovely thought, and one that I believe to be true. For me, I am going to take it to mean that she would like me to remember the cats–especially the lost and abandoned ones. It maybe time for me to make a donation to my favorite rescue group in Samantha Mooney’s name. 🙂

        Reply
        • Maria T
          May 26, 2021 at 2:02 pm (4 weeks ago)

          I would go for that! I live in Sweden but I would love to contribute to a rescue group of your choice, in remembrance of Samantha Mooney.

          Reply
          • Nancy West
            May 26, 2021 at 2:12 pm (4 weeks ago)

            Oh gosh, I’m sure there are many in Sweden that would appreciate your gesture to them.

      • Ingrid
        May 27, 2021 at 4:02 am (4 weeks ago)

        That’s such a lovely thought, Maria. I hope Samantha knows in whatever form she is in now how much her book is still loved after all that time.

        Reply
  3. Silvia shanahan
    May 16, 2021 at 11:21 pm (1 month ago)

    Thank you so much for this….having read many cat books, this was new to me…I got it from my library and am totally immersed in it….it really takes me into her world, and I am also learning much about feline health in the way she explains.

    Reply
  4. Karen Lucas
    May 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm (2 months ago)

    Oh I love this book too. Thank you so much

    Reply
  5. Dorothy Scanlan
    May 1, 2021 at 12:33 pm (2 months 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…

    Reply
    • Nancy West
      May 1, 2021 at 6:59 pm (2 months ago)

      I was wondering the same thing about Samantha Mooney!

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        May 2, 2021 at 3:59 am (2 months ago)

        I periodically google her and nothing comes up. 🙁

        Reply
        • Nancy West
          May 2, 2021 at 5:14 pm (2 months ago)

          Oh dear…

          Reply
  6. Timmy Tomcat
    April 30, 2021 at 1:44 pm (2 months 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

    Reply
  7. Nancy West
    April 30, 2021 at 1:01 pm (2 months 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!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 30, 2021 at 3:45 pm (2 months 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!

      Reply
      • Nancy West
        May 2, 2021 at 5:17 pm (2 months ago)

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

        Reply
  8. Pamela Tomlinson
    April 30, 2021 at 10:11 am (2 months 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.

    Reply
  9. Dick Weavil
    April 30, 2021 at 9:22 am (2 months 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.

    Reply
  10. CarolMcK
    April 30, 2021 at 8:43 am (2 months 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 ….

    Reply
  11. T. J. Banks
    April 30, 2021 at 7:18 am (2 months 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.

    Reply
  12. Janine
    April 30, 2021 at 6:47 am (2 months ago)

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

    Reply
  13. Maria T
    April 30, 2021 at 2:18 am (2 months 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.

    Reply
  14. Eleanor Skibo
    April 30, 2021 at 1:47 am (2 months 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.

    Reply

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