Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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Over the holidays, I started re-reading some of the classic cat books in my collection, and I thought I’d start a new series, Classic Cat Books, to introduce these books to new readers of re-introduce them to those of you who have read them. Samantha Mooney’s A Snowflake in My Hand was first published in 1983, and I read it for the first time back then.

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.

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7 Comments on Classic Cat Books Series: A Snowflake in My Hand

  1. A superb book written by a Great Soul. 35+ years since it was written, still a peerless classic. Does anyone have any leads on what has become of Ms. Mooney? She touched so many, so deeply I would love to hear that she is still alive and helping cats.

    • I haven’t been able to find out anything, Geoff, even though I periodically do some research. I, too, would love to hear if anyone finds out!

  2. One of my all time favorite books … not just for cat lovers. I had to buy copies to share with others because I couldn’t part with mine … tho i never read it again after going thru so many tissues that first time over 29 yrs ago. You’ve inspired me to try to read it again … but not while my senior girl is battling ckd 🙁

  3. One of my favorites as well. I had the good fortune to know Samantha a number a years ago when she and a wonderful doctor, Glenna Mauldin, cared for my cat, Toby. He was given either immediate death without treatment to 6 months with treatment. He lived five and a half years and conquered his cancer.
    That is love and commitment.

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