Answered by Ustadha Umm Ihsan
Question: We recently adopted a a cat and I have a few questions in regards to the purity of a house cat. I was hoping that a clear ruling can be given to me as to what is filthy and what is not. I am also worried about it using the litter box and then walking around the house and jumping on the tables and couches. Is it considered filthy if she has just come out of the litter box and then is touching the tables and couches? How about the saliva?
Answer: Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahimi
My husband and I used to have two cats in our household. I understand your concerns. However, once one is familiar with the rulings related to purity and tamed cats, it’s not so worrying.
Household Cats & Basic Rulings of Purity
Hanafi scholars deduce that:
1. Cat hair is pure.
2. Cat saliva is pure.
3. Cat feces and urine are impure (najis), and they are considered major filth.
4. Cat blood is impure (najis), and it is considered major filth.
5. Cat vomit is impure (najis), and it is considered major filth.
[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Household Cats & Soiled Furniture
When dealing with rulings related to purification, the basis is purity. Thus, one always assumes purity in cases of doubt, unless one is certain filth is present. One does not need to get obsessive or frantic.
Scattered cat litter is not filthy in and of itself. From my personal experience, I have found that most cats use the restroom in the litter box and spend a few moments covering up their excrements with unsoiled cat litter before exiting. Therefore, it’s quite likely that any cat litter stuck in its paws is clean and not filthy. If one changes the litter every two days and fills the litter box with a sufficient amount of litter, this lessens the possibility of spreading impure cat litter around one’s house.
If one notices invisible traces of filth (e.g. urine) on one’s furniture or carpet, one purifies the area by washing it with water, drying it each time, until one believes the trace is removed. Scholars say three times is more than sufficient. Traces of filth are known by color, taste, or smell.
If one notices visible filth (e.g. feces, blood, or vomit) on one’s furniture or carpet, one purifies the area by washing it with water until the filth is completely removed, even if it only takes one washing. Leftover stains that are hard to remove are excused, as long as the physical body of filth is removed. Using soap is not a requirement.
If either invisible or visible filth is found on a smooth surface (e.g. countertops or tiled floors) that are free from open pores, then one can simply wipe up the remnants with a tissue or cloth. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Tahtawi, Hashiyyat al-Tahtawi; ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Alternatively, if one notices filth on removable household decor (e.g. pillow cases, prayer rugs or bedsheets), one can purify the item in the washing machine, though it is more precautionary to follow the aforementioned rulings before placing it in the washing machine. Please read this related link:
Detailed Rulings Related to the Saliva of Household Cats
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said about tamed cats, “It is not impure, it is of those [creatures] that mingle with you.” [Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi] Thus, due to the excessive interaction between humans and cats, the rulings related to the saliva of tamed cats differ from other animals out of necessity. [ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
All of the rulings below are relevant if one is unsure if the cat’s mouth is filthy. If one is certain that the cat’s mouth is filthy (e.g. it just ate a mouse), then the related ruling of filthiness applies. If a cat renews its saliva, the mouth is purified and it is no longer impure.
Cat saliva is pure in the Hanafi madhhab, but there are a few rulings one should know:
1. If a cat drinks from a container of water, the leftover water remaining in the container is pure.
However, it is slightly disliked (makruh tanzihi) to use it for purification if other water is available for use. If no other water is available, one must use the leftover water and cannot resort to dry ablution (tayammum).
2. If a cat licks one’s hand, it is slightly disliked (makruh tanzihi) to pray without washing one’s hand first.
3. If cat saliva gets on one’s garment, it is slightly disliked (makruh tanzihi) to pray with it.
4. If a cat eats solid food, it is slightly disliked to eat from the same place it put its mouth if one is financially capable of eating something else. If one is not financially able, then it is not disliked out of necessity.
[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Tahtawi, Hashiyyat al-Tahtawi; ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Barak Allah fikum
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Umm Ihsan is a female student of Islamic knowledge from the US. She studies with leading Hanafi scholars from Syria and elsewhere.