When I was a kid, I had a rabbit’s foot keychain. Supposedly, it would bring good luck.
I didn’t actually believe in luck (I never won anything).
I didn’t believe that possessing the rabbit’s foot gave me any special powers.
I didn’t even question where the idea of a rabbit’s foot bringing luck came from.
And, I definitely didn’t think about an actual bunny rabbit’s foot. If I had, I likely wouldn’t have wanted one. The one I had was soft and fake.
No animal died for me to have this soft trinket hanging from my keychain.
Why did I have a keychain? I didn’t even have keys!
According to the internet, it seems that Celtic tribes believed that rabbits spent so much time underground that they must be able to communicate with spirits, so having a piece of them would naturally transfer some of that connection.
I’m one-hundred percent sure none of this was tied to my relationship with the rabbit’s foot of my childhood.
How could I call it a “rabbit’s foot” and remain disconnected from what it actually was?
I won’t eat pigs’ feet or a cow’s heart because their names betray what they are which grosses me out.
Somehow, liver slipped through the cracks. My dad made us chicken liver when I was growing up. The name is pretty straightforward, and yet, I ate it and still like it to this day.
When our cat, Max, died in 2021, we took his body to the vet to be cremated. As a kid, we always buried our cats in the backyard. In the city, we don’t have a backyard for cat burials.
We had to fill out a form, making our wishes known for Max. Did we want him buried or cremated? Did we want his ashes? Did we want some of his fur? Did we want a paw?
I was so distracted with grief at the time, I didn’t fully register this option.
I have learned that once the spirit is no longer in the body of a human or beloved cat, I don’t want to touch it. I didn’t want some of Max’s fur. I certainly didn’t want his paw. Max was gone. End of story.
I recently went down a rabbit trail, if you will, around this option of keeping a cat’s paw.
I can’t find any information indicating that someone might want to keep a cat’s paw for some kind of luck though it seems to be a thing people do.
Who thought it would be a good idea to cut a cat’s paw off and keep it?
I am not a taxidermy girl. I’ve never wanted something that was once living to be preserved and kept anywhere near me. I don’t care how cute or soft or amazing it was in real life.
But, what if we progressed to a world where it was common for people to keep their pet’s limbs after they die?
Would I have a coffee table display of cat paws?
“This one belonged to my childhood cat, Juliette. And this one is from Tonks. We only had her for a handful of days, but look at this cute paw.”
Would I put the paws on my keychain and carry them with me? Or would I only have the most recently dead cat on my everyday keychain … the rest might be hanging, forgotten, from a key hook in the kitchen?
Would I pick them up and pet them, remembering their unique personalities and characteristics?
I can tell you, with decent certainty, that no, I wouldn’t. The idea of it totally creeps me out.
Further down the rabbit trail: if I’m keeping a paw, why not the head?
Do I have a display in the bookshelf of cat heads? Do I display them based on color and what looks visually pleasing? Or do I put them in the order in which I owned them?
The idea of this is what nightmares, for me, are made of.
Further down: if I keep the paws and/or heads of my beloved cats, what do I do when a beloved family member dies?
Should I have asked for hair from my dad’s mustache?
When my husband dies, should I keep his hand? When I feel sad and alone, I could pull out his hand, interlace my fingers, and know that he’s with me. I’m never truly alone.
None of this feels lucky to me, and it certainly doesn’t bring me comfort.
Every real rabbit’s foot belonged to a rabbit somewhere.
Every rabbit was someone’s child, perhaps someone’s beloved, and possibly someone’s pet.
Thank goodness I don’t believe in luck anyway. I don’t need a rabbit’s foot. I don’t need my cat’s paw. Or head. I don’t need my dad’s mustache. My husband’s hand.
I have photos. Videos. Memories.
For me, not having some overly tangible piece of them actually helps me remember they are truly gone from this world.
And, not having these trinkets of them helps me sleep at night.