It’s International Cat Day!!
Yes, there really is a day to celebrate everything and anything lol. But we should take this opportunity to ruminate over how our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) loved cats and treated them with the utmost care. The Prophet always led by example, he taught us to be good and kind to all of God’s creatures, humans and animals alike. But in particular we often hear stories about his fondness for felines.
“Verily there is Heavenly Reward for every act of kindness done to a living animal”- Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
There is a very well-known story about the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his favourite cat, Muezza. Muezza was fast asleep on the Prophet’s robes when the Adhan started to sound. Rather than wake the cat by moving him, the prophet (SAW) cut off the sleeve of his robe so Muezza can continue to slumber peacefully.
The Prophet (SAW) would also let Muezza rest on his lap while giving sermons. These stories really highlight the Prophets love for cats; in fact it’s been reported that he said the mistreatment of a cat can result in severe punishment in the afterlife:
Abdullah reported that Allah's Messenger (SAW) said: A woman was tormented because of a cat which she had confined until it died, and she had to get into Hell. She did not allow it either to eat or drink as it was confined, nor did she free it so that it might eat the insects of the earth. (Sahih Muslim)
Many Muslims choose to keep cats as pets, this is most likely due to the fact that they are clean and considered pure (taahir), unlike dogs who are seen as impure (najis). There is infact a narration where the prophet was performing wudu from a pot of water; a cat passed by and was said to be looking at the water in a thirsty way. The Prophet (SAW) paused in his wudu to let the cat drink, and then continued afterwards. This signifies that cats are taahir and can live among us in a way that animals like dogs cannot.
Their saliva is considered clean unless a visible impurity can be seen on the cat’s mouth.
"There is no harm in that unless one sees impurities on the cat's mouth." (Muwatta Malik).
However if we chose to keep cats as pets, we must treat them the right way: We must feed them well and give them enough time to roam. As mentioned above, there is a severe punishment for those that abuse cats.
We can also look at examples from the Prophet’s companions. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), a close companion of the prophet, was literally named after his love for cats! Abu Hurayrah actually means father of the kitten. People often referred to him with that name as he would care for and constantly carry around a small cat. This really emphasises how cats should be appreciated. Maybe they really do deserve to have a special day dedicated to celebrating them!
One final point on why we should love and care for cats: they are adorable!! Just check out this video of these cats on a muzmatch video call 😉