Paws for Thought: Love for Felines in Islam

Most of us would have had a pet cat when we were younger. Or, at the very least, we continually come across strays in our neighbourhoods which we have been feeding for weeks, months or even years. It seems that we just cannot resist these mischievous four-legged snuggly fur balls which have aloof imprinted in their DNA, but catching us by surprise – melting our collective hearts with sudden head rubs when we least expect it.

We rely more on our pet cats than we care to acknowledge or even realise! Throughout this pandemic, more people have been exploring opportunities to adopt with a 250% increase in global searches by would-be pet owners. The following occurred during April and May 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.In addition, cats are more popular than dogs in 91 countries which means you are not alone in being part of a worldwide ailurophile club.

Many believe that having pets, especially, during these challenging times help with their mental well-being. Moreover, we have a lifelong friend to boot, as long as the kibbles keep coming!

Cracking the Cat Code With Faith

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar:

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ عُذِّبَتِ امْرَأَةٌ فِي هِرَّةٍ حَبَسَتْهَا، حَتَّى مَاتَتْ جُوعًا، فَدَخَلَتْ فِيهَا النَّارَ ـ قَالَ فَقَالَ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ ـ لاَ أَنْتِ أَطْعَمْتِهَا وَلاَ سَقَيْتِهَا حِينَ حَبَسْتِيهَا، وَلاَ أَنْتِ أَرْسَلْتِيهَا فَأَكَلَتْ مِنْ خَشَاشِ الأَرْضِ ‏”‏‏.‏

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) further said, (Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), ‘You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the vermin of the earth.’ “

[Sahih al-Bukhari 2365]

As evident from the above hadith, it is deemed a serious sin to mistreat cats in Islam. Even Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was clear pertaining to the treatment of cats. They are not to be neglected, thus causing hunger. It is sunnah to feed them even if they are strays.

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ، عَنْ دَاوُدَ بْنِ صَالِحِ بْنِ دِينَارٍ التَّمَّارِ، عَنْ أُمِّهِ، أَنَّ مَوْلاَتَهَا، أَرْسَلَتْهَا بِهَرِيسَةٍ إِلَى عَائِشَةَ رضى الله عنها فَوَجَدْتُهَا تُصَلِّي فَأَشَارَتْ إِلَىَّ أَنْ ضَعِيهَا فَجَاءَتْ هِرَّةٌ فَأَكَلَتْ مِنْهَا فَلَمَّا انْصَرَفَتْ أَكَلَتْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَكَلَتِ الْهِرَّةُ فَقَالَتْ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّهَا لَيْسَتْ بِنَجَسٍ إِنَّمَا هِيَ مِنَ الطَّوَّافِينَ عَلَيْكُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَقَدْ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَتَوَضَّأُ بِفَضْلِهَا ‏.‏

Dawud ibn Salih ibn Dinar at-Tammar quoted his mother as saying that her mistress sent her with some pudding (harisah) to Aisha who was offering prayer. She made a sign to me to place it down. A cat came and ate some of it, but when Aisha finished her prayer, she ate from the place where the cat had eaten. She stated: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: It is not unclean: it is one of those who go round among you. She added: I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performing ablution from the water left over by the cat.

[Sunan Abi Dawud 76]

Clearly, cats are favoured for their cleanliness. This is partly why cats are permissible to enter homes and even mosques.

In human cultures across the globe, superstitions abound and could prove detrimental to weakening of faith when left unchecked. One being the misfortune associated with black cats that cross our paths unexpectedly, for instance. However, there is no Quranic verse or hadith to support such views. Instead, we as Muslims should put our faith in Allah and only fear Allah.

In a nutshell, all positive and negative things that happen remain in the purview of Allah; and Allah alone, decides our trajectories in life, certainly not black cats!

Purr-fect Tips for A Healthy Cat Companion

Whether you are a first time pet owner, or have been one for years it does not hurt to revisit a couple of fundamentals when it comes to ensuring that your cat is happy and healthy.

Supply of fresh, clean water is a must. Just like us, cats need to hydrate in order to maintain good health. Sufficient supply aids digestion, specifically, in the transport and absorption of nutrients and helps to maintain body temperature. One myth that we have come to accept as universal truth is that cats prefer to lap up milk in their saucers. Like many of us, cats could also be lactose intolerant. Therefore, milk is not necessarily the best choice for hydration when, in fact, it could cause issues, such as diarrhoea which only worsens dehydration.

No doubt, the pandemic has been a challenging period for many of us. Again, just like us, our pets are not averse to becoming depressed after being cooped up in a small indoor space for a long time. Windows are ideal for cats to observe the outdoors which provides an avenue to kill boredom and passing the time. If possible, add a bird feeder that would provide more opportunities for a varied occurrences to be observed.

Ultimately, no matter what animal we come across or choose to have as our pets, we need to treat it right.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ لَنَا فِي الْبَهَائِمِ لأَجْرًا فَقَالَ‏: فِي كُلِّ ذَاتِ كَبِدٍ رَطْبَةٍ أَجْرٌ ‏

The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 2466]