There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. ~ Qur’an 6:38
As parents, we know that our children at some point will be introduced to the notion of having a pet. This will come via their connections with family, friends, neighbors and from school. Some schools have classroom pets that include rabbit, hamsters, guinea pigs and even goldfish in the hope of encouraging the child’s nurturing and responsibility skills.
It is inevitably that your child will ask for a pet especially once they start going to school. Most children’s first experience with having their own pets begins with a goldfish in a bowl.
Children can learn so much from having a pet, not only will they learn from watching your interaction but it helps with their socialization skills. A shy child may openly speak to family and other children about their cat. This in turn increases their confidence, language skills and even encourages them to make friends with other children because of a shared love for animals.
Emotionally, children will express themselves to their beloved cat who sits and listens, some may even be encouraged to read to their cat increasing their love for books. Children will inevitably learn empathy and nurturing skills by looking out for their kitty to ensure all is well.
Is it permissible?
In Islam, there is nothing wrong with keeping permissible pets as long as there is no neglect. The top two animals kept as pets in the world are dogs and cats. Dogs, however, are allowed to be kept in only two categories. One is as a guard dog and the other is as a hunting dog. If it is kept for any other reason rewards (qirat) are deducted.
He who keeps a dog for any reason other than to guard his property (lands) or his flock of sheep, his good deeds equal to two Qirat will be deducted every day. ~ Bukhari
While you can still pat or touch a dog, should it lick you or your clothing you must wash the area as it is considered unclean. It is said that you should not keep dogs in the house as the angels do not enter a house with a dog in it.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or an image.”
Thus, of the world’s two most popular pets, the preference is given to the cat. They are clean, friendly, not harmful and not considered impure not even if their saliva touches you.
There is no harm in that unless one sees impurities on the cat’s mouth. ~ Hadith
Cats are wonderful
In fact, there is a Hadith that tells us that Abū Qatādah takes the bowl of water for ablution and allows a cat to drink from it and then he still goes ahead and uses the water. He states, that the cat drinking from the water does not make it impure (naajis).
Cats cannot invalidate prayers regardless of if they walk in front of you or even sit beside you while praying.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Cats do not invalidate the prayer, because they are one of the things that are useful in the house. ~ Hadith
As with all animals you should never mistreat any pets, but there is a special ruling regarding the mistreatment of cats. It is considered a sin and not just a sin, but a serious sin. According to Hadith, there was once a woman who locked up her cat and never fed it. Her punishment on the Day of Judgment was torture and to remain in the hellfire.
Nowadays, people are aware of cruelty to animals and there are international laws to enforce the proper treatment of all animals. The best place to acquire a cat is from an animal shelter or from someone you know who is giving away a cat or kitten. Islam says there must be no money involved when acquiring a cat, no buying, selling or trading as it is not permissible.
Cats are wonderful companions for children. Get your cat comfortable with your child by being present on the initial first meetings. Take time to have interactive /supervised play time so both the cat and your child can get used to each. This will double as a learning session where you can teach your child what to do and what not to do. But, ultimately, the cat’s health, food and litter box habits are the adult’s responsibility.
Looking after a permissible pet can bring years of valuable life lessons for your child and family. And, all pets and animals are part of the creation and as custodians there are rewards for caring for them.