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Can a Muslim have a cat as a pet?
Praise be to Allaah.
There is nothing wrong with keeping cats which do not belong to anyone, on condition that one feeds them and does not torment them. But if it is proven that they cause some harm, such as if they are ill or one fears that they may transmit disease, then you should not keep them, because “there should be no harming nor reciprocating harm.” So whoever will be harmed by a cat’s presence should not keep one. Similarly, one who is not able to feed a cat should let it eat from the vermin of the earth and not keep it locked up, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (3223) and Muslim (1507) from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both), according to which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A woman was punished because of a cat which she kept locked up until it died, and she entered Hell because of it, because she did not feed it or give it water when she kept it locked up, neither did she let it eat from the vermin of the earth.”
With regard to cats eating food or drinking water, that does not make the food or water naajis (impure), because of the report narrated in Sunan Abi Dawood and elsewhere, which says that a woman brought some hareesah (a kind of food) to ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) and found her praying. (‘Aa’ishah) gestured to her that she should put it down. Then a cat came and ate some of it. When ‘Aa’ishah had finished praying, she ate from where the cat had eaten and said, “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘They (cats) are not naajis (impure), rather they are among those who go around among you (al-tawwaafeena ‘alaykum).’ I saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) doing wudoo’ with water from which a cat had drunk.”
“Those who go around among you (al-tawwaafeena ‘alaykum)” means that they are like servants who are with people in their houses, i.e., cats are always with people, in their houses and among their vessels and furnishings, etc., and this is something that cannot be helped.
But we should point out here that what some people do, paying a great deal of attention to their cats and beautifying them, spending large amounts of money on them, is indicative of a lack of common sense and religious commitment, and exaggeration with regard to leisure, when there are millions of needy Muslims all over the world, let alone the fact that we Muslims should pay attention to making the best use of our time and filling it with worthwhile and beneficial pursuits. Some people spend more on their cats and dogs than they spend on their own sons and daughters, let alone the poor and needy.
We should also point out that selling cats is not allowed, as was narrated in Saheeh Muslim (2933) from Abu’l-Zubayr who said: “I asked Jaabir about the price of a dog or a cat. He said, ‘The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade that.’”
And Allaah knows best.
Question Date: 2011-05-30
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