I am a kafir but feel able to answer the question in the title. On a leading website forum (according to Google) there is a discussion about whether cats are haram (haraam). Some visitors to the site are unsure about it but the truth is that in Islamic tradition cats are regarded as clean animals because they groom themselves fastidiously. As a consequence they are not haram. By the way, the word “haram” means forbidden.
There is a discussion on one website about whether a Muslim should keep a cat in the house but that’s a red herring. As cats are not haram, Muslims are allowed to keep them in the house if they want to. There is an interesting additional thought here in that one apparently wise Muslim states that it is forbidden to sell a cat. Therefore Islamic faith forbids cat breeders. I wonder whether the adoption fee at a cat rescue centre is considered to be buying a cat? There’s a complication there. If it is there’s no way that a Muslim can acquire a cat unless a cat turns up or a neighor gives them a cat.
There are numerous ancient stories (hadiths) within the Islamic faith about cats and how they are clean. Some concern the Prophet himself. Muslims are even allowed to drink the water that a cat has drunk from and to eat the food that a cat is eaten from. Muslims have a choice whether they want to do it or not but it is not forbidden. This is because the water or food does not become impure once a cat has drunk or eaten.
On a personal note speaking as a non-believer, it seems a bit odd that a religion should be sticking its nose into whether a believer can a cat’s water. This should not be a religious matter. It is matter of personal choice and highly unlikely to happen in day-to-day life. In the question of as to whether cats are haram is to me odd. The Islamic faith can’t and shout not provide the minutiae of rules governing all aspects of living.
It would seem that the leaders of the Muslim faith dislike the idea of spending too much on domestic cats and becoming obsessed with them as they believe some people in the West are. They believe that it is wrong for people to spend more on their cats than they do on their sons, daughters, needy and the poor. They can’t understand the idea of putting pets in fancy hotels and bequeathing money to them in their Will.
My impression is that despite what I have written above, it is rare for a Muslim to be a cat owner. This is only an impression. Perhaps the younger generation of Muslims are more likely to be cat owners. There is probably the concept amongst Muslims that cats are lesser creatures to humans and that humans are on this planet to be the keepers of cats and animals and that we are on a higher level than animals. This is in line with the teachings in the Bible. That doesn’t really work for me because it can encourage animal abuse. Also I believe it is a backward thought which is not surprising as the Koran was written centuries ago (609-632 AD).
Another Muslim expert says that as cats live in homes it is almost impossible to safeguard human food and utensils from them. That is incorrect in my opinion because cats do not eat the same food as humans and they do not touch utensils. However, the idea is that if they do, it isn’t a problem because whatever the cat touches remains pure (taahir).
Note: Kafir = Nonbeliever.
References: (a) ummah.com (b) islamqa.info (c) fiqhulhadith.wordpress.com (c) Wikipedia.