Is cat saliva filthy under Islam?

Is cat saliva filthy under Islam? The answer is No. However, it appears not to be clear cut. About 4 years ago I wrote an article about the Islam faith and cats, which was copied, almost verbatim, by the Muslim Observer website! The general conclusion is that cats are welcome by Muslims because the Prophet Muhammad liked cats. He was an excellent cat caretaker. What a blessing that is.

I wonder, though, whether, all Muslims treat cats as they should under their religion? I would expect, not, because not all Muslims will loyally adhere to their faith as is the case for any other religion. You would expect cats to be living in utopia in Pakistan but I have no doubt that they are not.

Muslim cat China

Muslim cat China

Cat Saliva

I have failed to unearth a list of constituents of cat saliva. However, it will be very similar to human saliva which is 99.5% water. We know that cat saliva contains enzymes that breaks down food and it is also known to contain a protein called Fel D1 which is the allergen that makes some people allergic to cats. That fact plays no role in answering the question in the title to this article.

Have you noticed how clean cats are and how sweet they smell? Whenever I kiss my cat I am very conscious of how nice he/she smells. Although I can’t find conclusive scientific evidence, it is believed that cat saliva contains a naturally occurring detergent-like substance that cleans the coat. This is what gives a cat that nutty, sweet smell.

Also, saliva, in general, contains antibacterial compounds. This is why you see animals licking wounds to assist in the healing process. They can overdo it and remove hair and skin.

Cat saliva will also contain bacteria that may be harmful to humans. A neighbour of mine, an old lady, was hospitalised for 10 weeks because of a cat bite. Unfortunately she let the bacterial infection from the bite spread inside her arm. Without wishing to be unkind to her, both the bite and failing to deal with it properly were her fault.

In conclusion from a person’s perspective there are good and bad aspects to cat saliva.

Is cat saliva filthy under Islam?

Cat saliva is not considered “filth” because of the hadith¹ that Abu Qatada related, that the Prophet Mohammad said that the cat is not impure².

However, “it would be mildly disliked” – referred to as “makruh tanzihan” if a person:

  • did not wash his hand before prayers if his cat had licked his hand but only if the person (a) “suspects” that the cat had eaten something unpleasant or a mouse beforehand and had not licked his mouth clean afterward or (b) the person is uncertain about what his cat had eaten. Phew – that is very complicated! To be frank, I don’t think it is practical.
  • drank from a container from which a cat had drank².

I have also failed to find a definition of the word “filth” in relation to the Islamic faith. We’ll have to take a common sense approach.


  1. A “hadith” is a saying or an act of approval or disapproval that is believed to have been made by the prophet Mohammad.
  2. Reference:
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Is cat saliva filthy under Islam? — 27 Comments

  1. most cats groom themselves very good.any person who has had an indoor only cat knows the very neutral and clean smell of a cat that is atleast a mostly indoor cat.I might be wrong,but I have always thought that human saliva has a lot more bacteria than cat saliva

    • …human saliva has a lot more bacteria than cat saliva…

      On the internet you’ll see articles about the diseases transmitted by cat saliva etc. and how dangerous it is. We hardly ever see the same about human saliva. If a person bites you and it breaks the skin, go to hospital 😉

      • Thats a very interesting point I think. I honestly wonder about that. Not too many people get bitten by humans so we’ll probably not get a chance to find out the comparism between human and cat bites.

        • Cat saliva differs from human saliva in that it lacks amylase. Carnivores don’t have enzymes in their saliva to break down starches. Human saliva contains amylase. I think about this when I share French fries (chips) or potato chips (crisps) with Monty. He really, really loves them, but his system is in no way set up to process them, so I just give him a tiny amount. The carbs in dry cat food are really bad when you reflect on the fact that feline saliva lacks amylase. A human eating a starch will be breaking down that starch even as he chews it. A cat’s saliva lacks the enzyme to do this, evidence that his body is not made for digesting carbs– or eating chips. But Monty still wants them!

  2. Yes I think cats saliva contains some sort of ‘antiseptic’ because of how they have to wash themselves after using the litter tray or earth outside.
    Cats do smell wonderful indoors and also when they come in from outside they smell fresh and clean and natural.
    They don’t need deoderants like we do.
    They are in fact much cleaner than many people, they thoroughly wash every part they can reach and always after a meal too.
    Many people are not as particular about personal hygeine as cats are.

  3. Michael i noticed one glaring pet animal missing from the streets of Srinagar, the common cat !Kashmir in India is the State having the maximum Islamic population and i was surprised to not see a single stray cat on any street.There were numerous stray dogs which seemed well fed and had denser fur compared to their counterparts on the streets of my home city in Mumbai.Stray dogs were a major nuisance in Srinagar a few years ago and people began poisoning them to reduce their population.I was very surprised of not spotting a single stray cat at any garbage dump nor house compound during my 6days/5 nights stay in Srinagar.Spotted stray dogs eating in rubbish dumps near housing colonies but never a stray cat.I photographed a few stray dogs but never ever got a chance to photograph a cat.I was wondering as to the appearance of the stray “kashmiri cat” as the climate is cold akin to Europe and hence wondering if the cats had dense fur. It was akin to my package tour of Europe in 2010 and not seeing a single stray cat in any European city including London.I personally feel that the stray dogs must have chased away the stray cats from the streets and the same cats could be in some other part of the city where there were less dogs.

    • Cats can’t pick up rocks so I guess the dogs rule over the cats on some streets. I stayed in Srinagar on a houseboat and like you, the week I spent there was catless. I don’t remember any cats. However I also didn’t see any cats in Manali, Kulu, Parvatti valley – however I did see some in Leh. That is a little confusing because Leh would be the most unwelcoming place weatherwise. Anywhere south of there including Dharamasala I saw plenty of cats. I don’t specifically remember cats in Shimla but you have clarified that in you previous article. I know the weather in Srinagar is more mild (slightly) than Leh and it is lower if that has any bearing.

      The only reason I find the logical explanation of dogs chasing the cats away is that all over India there are dogs and cats. To be fair, they don’t tend to appear at the same time from what I remember. Dogs of course hang out in packs and can be quite dangerous if you don’t know to pick up a rock. In Delhi and Varanassi I remember many cats and not so many dogs except down by the ghats in Varanassi. I loved the cats in India. Many of them seemed thin and as they would have a hard life even though in the built up areas there is plenty of food for them. Ironically, if I was a cat in India I would prefer a rural place but as much as they seem cleaner and the air fresher – they are often the places where you risk getting poisoned more in my experience. I was foolish enough to swim in the river in Hampi and suffered from blood poisoning for a long time after. The water seemed perfect. But in Delhi I was drinking water straight from the tap. If anything you get too much chlorine there but I think survival is better for cats in the big cities in India, not the small places. People seem to care about them. I stayed in many families houses and small guest houses where cats were welcome and were lying around. The other thing I would consider to be a threat to cats and a reason why they may be absent is when there are large amounts of monkeys.

      I didn’t get the feeling there was hatred or dislike of cats in India regardless of being in a Hindu predominant area or Muslim.

    • That is strange. I have a feeling the local authorities have eradicated them. I don’t know but there should be some cats on the street. Kashmir is quite a tourist attraction for Europeans and all Westerners so I wonder if there is a policy to quietly kill stray cats – to clean up the streets – to avoid a tourist attraction being “spoiled”. This is the sort of thing that has happened in China (Beijing) during the Olympic games and in Greece during the tourist season.

      • That’s horrible Michael. I never knew.. and even in Greece.. how could they. I know the cats come for food in restaurants there but getting rid of them is just so over the top and heavy handed. People go to see Greece, complete with it’s cats. Why don’t people get that. If you go to a Chinese restaurant you don’t ask them for Japanese food. If you go to Greece you want to see Greece I would hope. If you don’t like it then leave. But I guess tourists think differently and so do the locals. Can you imagine if they decided to get rid of the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Same thing. That’s horrid I’m sorry. What is tourism anyway – I guess it’s not travelling in the mental sense anymore. It’s more a cherrypicking form of consumerism where you don’t care about the real fullness of the local culture and atmosphere but you just want to see a temple or 2 and have airconditioning and a place to sunbathe where it’s clean and the locals won’t bother you. Club Med style. We are pathetically fragile in our need to consume.

    • They are known throughout the world as being fastidiously clean. How many people have you meet who are unwashed? 😉 When I go on a London bus, not infrequently there is one person, usually a middle aged male, who is unwashed and he pongs to hell….! You never get an unwashed cat unless he is very ill.

  4. During my tour of duty in Iraq, I witnessed cats being horribly abused. Stray dogs were also abused and went unfed by most. A lot of us Army guys fed the strays. I honestly didn’t see that many cats in Iraq.

    There is only one ethnic group that ever revered cats and that was the Egyptians….long before Islam came into being. Harming a cat in ancient Egypt was a death penalty offense.

      • I have never, EVER heard that. Some relatives were “allowed” to have a cat put to sleep so it could be buried with the deceased owner.

        Just one link re: cat law in Egypt.

        When I was in Egypt, I asked several museum people about their ancient cat laws. Not one told me about people breeding to sell. In fact it was illegal to sell a cat to a foreign person.

        • To be honest the abuse of cats by the human has been going on for the entire time that there have been domestic cats.

          The Egyptians’ worship of the cat has some truth but there was a lot of abuse as well. Just like today really. Today there are good people who care about cats and many who abuse cats.

  5. I forgot the lawsuit here in the U.S. involving Muslims. Muslim cabbies refused to allow service animals in their cabs….stating the saliva was unhealthy and vile to Islam. That went for both dogs and cats. They were sued under ADA and lost licenses until they complied. Same thing happened over alcohol. They lost that fight too.

    • …stating the saliva was unhealthy and vile to Islam…

      Wow, that is very interesting. It goes completely against the Islamic faith based on my research. So much for religion. Mohammad himself kept cats for heavens sake. Religion is used by people to serve their own ends and self-interest.

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