Prophet Muhammad and sand cats

There is a connection between the Prophet Muhammad and the diminutive sand cat (Felis margarita). Muslim tradition has it that sand cats were the companions of the Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima. The source of that information is the book: La Vie Sauvage du Sahara by A. Dragesco-Joffé – 1993. I don’t have any hard detail about it, I’m afraid. However, we know that Muhammad was the founder of Islam and that he spent his entire life in Saudi Arabia.

Sand cat
Sand cat. Photo: © Payman Sazesh CC BY-SA 3.0
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Even today, when the distribution of the sand cat has been restricted because of human commercial activities, it is still found in Saudi Arabia. Back in the day of Muhammad they would have been more numerous and present across the whole of Saudi Arabia, I expect. It is plausible that he would have seen them. But I’d doubt that they were ‘companions’ of the Prophet. They don’t make good pets. In fact I have argued that they can be quite dangerous to people. Perhaps the word ‘companions’ in this context means sharing the desert landscape.

We know that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats so the relationship between the him and the sand cat is an extension of his relationship with domestic cats.

There is the occasional conflict between the nomads who live in the Sahara desert and the sand cat which quite often kills and eat chickens and are sometimes caught in traps set in front of chicken enclosures. In general, the nomads do not persecute the sand cats in retaliation but respect them because of the Muslim tradition commenced by the Prophet Muhammad to respect cats.

My reference book also tells me that the eagle owls and hoopoes were also the companions of the Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima.


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