Desexing a cat is not forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law (haram) provided the cat is not harmed. Spaying and neutering operations “desex” domestic and feral cats and it is done by veterinarians under controlled conditions and the cats are not harmed. Clearly the word “harmed” in this instance means injuring the cat because of a botched operation. The act of desexing a cat is automatically harming the cat.
Islamic law is fairly clear on this matter. Sometimes it is less clear and my research produces a range of opinions but that is not the case in this instance. It appears that desexing humans is haram, however. One student and an expert on Islamic law says that desexing cats is all right under Islamic law because it is useful in preventing the procreation of cats and because “Allah Himself has created them for we human beings”. So he believes that animals are created for people.
On another website, the question is answered by the late Sheikh Sayyed Mutawalli Ad-Darsh, the former chairman of the UK Shari`ah Council. His advice is that spaying and neutering of animals is not encouraged by the Islam faith but it is not forbidden either. Apparently, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah ibn `Umar, reported that the Prophet forbade the neutering of horses and other animals.
But in another tradition it is reported that the Prophet is said to have permitted the desexing of animals so long as the operation is carried out early in life and not when a mature adult. As the desexing of cats is carried out early on in life it is permissible under Islamic law.
Another expert, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, states that desexing a cat is preventing a natural process that Allah has created but if the operation doesn’t cause harm or complications it is permissible. Conversely, if it does cause complications or harm it is forbidden.
Comment: I’m pleased that Islamic law allows desexing to take place. It would be better, ironically, if Islamic law made the desexing of cats obligatory. That’s a fanciful dream because when the Koran and Hadiths were written cats were not desexed. It was not dreamed of as there were no vets and no thought of doing it. At the time of the Prophet Mohammad, no cats or dogs were sterilised as the concept did not exist.
To be honest, it is about common sense. I don’t think you need to refer to an ancient religious text in the 21st century to decide whether desexing cats is a good idea or not and therefore permissible. This is not disrespecting the Islam faith. Islamic law on this issue should be modern law. It is a necessary operation, regrettably, because of an over abundance of unwanted cat companions. Common sense must take precedence over everything as does the health and welfare of all animals.