Is Keeping a Cat Sunnah? Myths VS Truths

Some say that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had a cat and it’s a sunnah to do the same, but is that true? 

Is keeping a cat sunnah? No, keeping a cat is not a sunnah and the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t have a cat. But as Muslims, we are allowed to keep cats as Aa’ishah narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘They (cats) are not najis (impure), rather they are among those who go around among you.”

If you want to know the ruling of keeping cats in Islam and if the prophet used to have a cat called muezza then keep reading.

Did the prophet have a cat and named it muezza?

No, the prophet did not have a cat called muezza, as there’s no proof of such a thing. Actually, the prophet didn’t keep cats, but he instructed us to be kind to them and to feed them, as they are pure animals.

Is it allowed to keep cats in Islam?

cat in front of Aya sophia to explain is keeping a cat sunnah

Yes, it is allowed for Muslims to keep cats, as they are pure animals. It was narrated by Abu Dawood (75), at-Tirmidhi (92), an-Nasaa’i (68), and Ibn Maajah (367) from Kabshah bint Ka‘b ibn Maalik, that

“Abu Qataadah came in when she had prepared water for Abu Qataadah to do wudu. A cat came and drank from the water, and he tilted the vessel for it so that it could drink. Kabshah said: He saw me looking at him and said: Do you find it strange, O daughter of my brother? The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: “They (cats) are not impure, they are of those who go around amongst you.”

[Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood and elsewhere.]

What the Hadeeth Means

At-Tirmidhi said regarding this hadith:

“This is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. And this is the opinion of most of the scholars of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). And of the Taabi‘een and those who came after them, such as ash-Shaafa‘i, Ahmad and Ishaaq. They did not see anything wrong with the water that a cat has drunk from.”

As-San‘aani said:

“In this explanation, there is an indication that Allah has made them like servants in that they are very close to the people of the household and spend a lot of time with them. Therefore, Allah has made things easy for His slaves by ordaining that cats are not impure. So as to avoid hardship. The hadeeth indicates that cats and water that they have drunk from are pure (Tahir)”

[from Subul as-Salaam, 1/24]

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“In the case of all animals, the ruling on their skin, hair, sweat, tears, and saliva is the same as the ruling on water from which it has drunk, with regard to whether it is pure or impure.”

[from al-Mughni, 1/46]

From this we can conclude that the water from which cats drink from is pure, meaning that their saliva is pure. And if their saliva is pure then this also means that their hair is pure and doesn’t break the wudu.

Actually, the hair of any animal is pure and doesn’t break the wudu. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“All hair, feathers, and wool are pure (Tahir), whether they are from the hide of an animal whose flesh may be eaten or an animal whose flesh may not be eaten, and whether the animal is alive or dead. This is the scholarly view that is most correct.”

[Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 21/38]

The answer in a Nutshell

So, is keeping a cat sunnah? And are we allowed to keep cats in the house? Keeping a cat is not sunnah, and yes, we are allowed to keep cats in the house because they are pure animals and their hair and saliva are pure.

The prophet’s companion Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) used to have cats therefore he was called Abu Hurayrah.

It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Raafi‘ said: I said to Abu Hurayrah: Why do you have the kunyah of Abu Hurayrah? He said: I used to tend my family’s sheep, and I had a small kitten (hurayrah) that I used to put in a tree at night, then during the day I would take it with me and play with it. Hence, they called me Abu Hurayrah (“father of the kitten”).” [Narrated by at-Tirmidhi (3840); classed as hasan by al-Haafiz in al-Isaabah (13/30).]

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Is it permissible to sell and buy cats?

Most scholars agreed that it is permissible to buy and sell cats. Imam an-Nawawi said: “Selling pet cats is permissible, and there is no difference of opinion among us concerning that… This is the view of the majority of scholars… The concession to sell cats was given by Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn Sireen, al-Hakam, Hammaad, Maalik, ath-Thawri, ash-Shaafa‘i, Ahmad, Ishaaq, Abu Haneefah, and all the ashaab ar-ra’y.” [Al-Majmoo‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab 9/229].

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