Praise be to Allaah.
It is permissible in Islam for a person to keep permissible
things that no one else has taken possession of before him, such as taking
firewood from the desert or wood from the forest. The same applies to taking
cats and raising them. One takes possession of a permissible thing by be
acquiring it and having it under one's care, provided that it does not
belong to anyone.
Based on the above, we may say that 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.” For more information see question no.
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
According to another report narrated by Abu Dawood (68) from
Kabshah bint Ka’b ibn Maalik, who was married to Ibn Abi Qutaadah, Abu
Qutaadah entered and she poured some water for him to do wudoo’. A cat came
and drank from the water, and he tipped the vessel for it so that it could
drink. Kabshah said: “He saw me looking at him and he said, ‘Do you find it
strange, O daughter of my brother?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He 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).”’” These two reports were classed as
saheeh by al-Bukhaari, al-Daaraqutni and others, as was stated in
al-Talkhees by Ibn Hajar, 1/15.
“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.
So if a cat drinks from a vessel or eats some of the food,
it does not become naajis (impure). The owner has the choice. If he is not
put off or if he needs it, he may eat (the food) or drink (the water),
because it is taahir (pure), unless it is obvious that it will cause harm.
If he is put off by the idea of eating or drinking, then he may leave it.
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, far removed from this folly
which has come to us from the kaafir west where some people spend more on
their cats and dogs than they spend on their own sons and daughters, let
alone the poor and needy. They may even bring their pets to stay in fancy
hotels and bequeath large amounts of money to them. Praise be to Allaah Who
has honoured us with Islam and distinguished us from all the other nations.
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.’” For more
information see question no. 7004 and
And Allaah knows best.