The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from the wild members of t ...
is a revered animal in Islam
. Admired for their cleanliness, cats are considered "the quintessential pet" by Muslims.
Origins of reverence
Cats have been venerated in the
The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
. Islam also has that tradition, albeit in a much modified form.
According to many hadith
, the Islamic prophet
Muhammad ( ar, مُحَمَّد; 570 – 8 June 632 Common Era, CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Muhammad in Islam, Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet Divine inspiration, di ...
prohibited the persecution and killing of cats.
One of Muhammad's companions was known as ] Abu Hurairah
Abu Hurayra ( ar, أبو هريرة, translit=Abū Hurayra; –681) was one of the companions of Islamic prophet Muhammad and, according to Sunni Islam, the most prolific narrator of hadith.
He was known by the '' kunyah'' Abu Hurayrah "Fathe ... (literally: "Father of the Kitten") for his attachment to cats. Abu Hurairah reported that he had heard Muhammad declare that a pious woman went to Hell
In religion and folklore, hell is a location in the afterlife in which evil souls are subjected to punitive suffering, most often through torture, as eternal punishment after death. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells ... for after she had been annoyed by a female cat, tied her with a rope and neglected to provide her with food and water until she died. According to legend, Abu Saeed's cat saved Muhammad from a snake. [
The American poet and travel author
Bayard Taylor (January 11, 1825December 19, 1878) was an American poet, literary critic, translator, travel author, and diplomat. As a poet, he was very popular, with a crowd of more than 4,000 attending a poetry reading once, which was a record ... (1825–1878) was astonished when he discovered a Syrian hospital where cats roamed freely. The institution, in which domestic felines were sheltered and nourished, was funded by a waqf, along with caretakers' wages, veterinary care and cat food. Edward William Lane
Edward William Lane (17 September 1801 – 10 August 1876) was a British orientalist, translator and lexicographer. He is known for his ''Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians'' and the '' Arabic-English Lexicon,'' as well as his translati ... (1801–1876), a British Orientalist who resided in Cairo
Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, ) is the capital of Egypt and its largest city, home to 10 million people. It is also part of the largest urban agglomeration in Africa, the Arab world and the Middle East: The Greater Cairo metr ..., described a cat garden originally endowed by the 13th-century Egyptian sultan Baibars
Al-Malik al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Bunduqdari ( ar, الملك الظاهر ركن الدين بيبرس البندقداري, ''al-Malik al-Ẓāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baybars al-Bunduqdārī'') (1223/1228 – 1 July 1277), of Turkic Kipchak ..., whose European contemporaries held a very different attitude towards cats, eating them or killing them under papal decrees. [
] Wilfred Thesiger
Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger (3 June 1910 – 24 August 2003), also known as Mubarak bin Landan ( ar, مُبَارَك بِن لَنْدَن, ''the blessed one of London'') was a British military officer, explorer, and writer.
Thesiger's trav ..., in his book ''The Marsh Arabs'', notes that cats were allowed free entry to community buildings in villages in the Mesopotamian Marshes
The Mesopotamian Marshes, also known as the Iraqi Marshes, are a wetland area located in Southern Iraq and in southwestern Iran. The marshes are primarily located on the floodplains of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers bound by the cities of Basra, ..., and even fed. Aside from protecting granaries and food stores from pests, cats were valued by the paper-based Arab-Islamic cultures for preying on mice that destroyed books. For that reason, cats are often depicted in paintings alongside Islamic scholars and bibliophiles. The medieval Egyptian zoologist Al-Damiri
Al-Damiri (1341–1405), the common name of Kamal al-Din Muhammad ibn Musa al-Damiri ( ar, كمال الدين محمد بن موسى الدميري), was an Arab Muslim writer from Egypt on canon law and natural history.
He wrote the first work ... (1344–1405) wrote that the first cat was created when God
In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ... caused a lion
The lion (''Panthera leo'') is a large cat of the genus ''Panthera'' native to Africa and India. It has a muscular, broad-chested body; short, rounded head; round ears; and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. It is sexually dimorphic; adult ... to sneeze, after animals on Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark ( he, תיבת נח; Biblical Hebrew: ''Tevat Noaḥ'')The word "ark" in modern English comes from Old English ''aerca'', meaning a chest or box. (See Cresswell 2010, p.22) The Hebrew word for the vessel, ''teva'', occurs twice in t ... complained of mice. [
Hygiene and neutering
In Islamic tradition, cats are admired for their cleanliness. They are thought to be ritually clean, and are thus allowed to enter homes
[ and even mosques, including ] Masjid al-Haram
, native_name_lang = ar
, religious_affiliation = Islam
, image = Al-Haram mosque - Flickr - Al Jazeera English.jpg
, image_upright = 1.25
, caption = Aerial view of the Great Mosque of Mecca
, ma .... Food sampled by cats is considered halal
''Halal'' (; ar, حلال, ) is an Arabic word that translates to "permissible" in English. In the Quran, the word ''halal'' is contrasted with ''haram'' (forbidden). This binary opposition was elaborated into a more complex classification k ..., in the sense that their consumption of the food does not make it impermissible for Muslims to eat, and water from which cats have drunk is permitted for wudu
Wuḍūʾ ( ar, الوضوء ' ) is the Islamic procedure for cleansing parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, or ablution. The 4 Fardh (Mandatory) acts of ''Wudu'' consists of washing the face, arms, then wiping the head and the fee ... (the ablution that is done by Muslims). [ Furthermore, there is a belief among some Muslims that cats seek out people who are ] praying
Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified a ....
Muslim scholars are divided on the issue of neutering
Neutering, from the Latin ''neuter'' ('of neither sex'), is the removal of an animal's reproductive organ, either all of it or a considerably large part. The male-specific term is castration, while spaying is usually reserved for female animals. ... animals. Most, however, maintain that neutering cats is allowed "if there is some benefit in neutering the cat and if that will not cause its death". Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, a 20th-century Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the fifth-largest country in Asia, the second-largest in the Arab ...n Sunni imam
Imam (; ar, إمام '; plural: ') is an Islamic leadership position. For Sunni Muslims, Imam is most commonly used as the title of a worship leader of a mosque. In this context, imams may lead Islamic worship services, lead prayers, serve ..., preached:
Many Muslims believe that Muezza (or ; ar, معزة) was Muhammad's favorite cat.
Muhammad awoke one day to the sounds of the '' adhan''. Preparing to attend prayer, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed. Another story is, upon returning from the mosque, Muhammad received a bow from Muezza. He then smiled and gently stroked his beloved cat three times, giving all cats the ability to land squarely on their feet. [ There is no mention of any such cat or the associated story in the hadith or supplementary works and there are similar stories attributed to someone else from 6th century Arabia which may explain the origin of the story.]
* Cats in ancient Egypt
Cultural depictions of cats
The cultural depiction of cats and their relationship to humans is old and stretches back over 9,500 years. Cats are featured in the history of many nations, are the subject of legend, and are a favorite subject of artists and writers.
* Feral cats in Istanbul
* Human interaction with cats
* Islam and dogs
* Moral status of animals in the ancient world
History of the Cat in Islam
Cats as pets
Animals in Islam