Cats. Felis catus.
I have no human children. I do, however, have furry children. I have 3 to be exact: Bella, Nephtet & Bilkis Queen of Sheba, Sheba for short. I love these cats from my soul. They are a part of me. Life without them would be empty, lonely and boring. People love to say that cats are aloof and cold, but that cannot be further from the truth! My cats are affectionate, loving, needy, playful, intelligent and unique. The 3 of them are very different.
Bella went through horrible abuse early in her life and it shaped how she takes on the world. She can be skittish, fearful and chooses to retreat in the face of anything she does not understand. I deal with her accordingly. Bella does not do anything except sit in the window and sleep. This is the life she wants. She has no interest in playing with toys. Once in a while she finds me and meows at me for some petting or she finds a lizard and chasing it becomes her life’s work. Sadly she always brings the dead lizards head to me. Bella likes to sit on the bottom shelf in the kitchen and watch me cook or clean. This is the extent of our interaction. I am OK with that because she is safe, clean, fed, and happy and that means the world to me. Those brief moments when she seeks me out for some love are few and far between but they are a treasure and often bring tears to my eyes. There is no greater honor.
Nephtet AKA Nephi (neffie) is a princess. She is spoiled. She is a baby. This is my fault. I adopted her and her brother, Amun Ra (Muni), together. Muni was sick and I had to let him go when he was about 8 months old. That was a sad, dark time for me and Nephi. She searched for him for days. I was hurting for my own loss but also for hers. She would sit awake all night long and just howl. I would take her under the covers with me and we would comfort each other with snuggles. Animals do know love. They bond with each other. They long for each other. Nephi has no concept of evil or any idea that bad things can happen. She floats through life on a cloud of happiness and optimism. Her only source of agony is that I have to leave the house to go to work. Nephi is dainty, small and has the smallest little paws. She is so easy going. I can literally shove my fingers down her throat, get a fecal sample, take her blood, clean her teeth or ears and she just lays there. When she sees or hears the ear flush she gets excited. She loves ear cleanings. Nephi gives amazing hugs. When I pick her up she pushes herself against me and purrs so hard and head butts me then licks my nose. Sometimes I pick her up and we just hug like this for a few minutes. I have never been hugged so deeply in my entire life.
Sheba is a dominant beauty queen. Sheba is arrogant and full of herself; she is beautiful and she knows it. She loves to stand up tall and arch her back up and forward and put her nose in the air in a “look how fabulous I am” kind of pose. Sheba has impeccable manners. Since she was a tiny kitten she just had manners. When she wants attention she comes to me, sits down, taps me with her paw and waits. If I do not answer her she eventually just walks away. If I do answer her she jumps up on my lap. She never jumps in the middle of what I am doing. Sheba has her own pillow and sleeps right next to my face. I often wake up lying on her chubby fluffy butt. We get all tangled up when we sleep. I love that. She follows me around and does not leave my side. If I call her name she comes running even if she was sound asleep.
I have the honor of an animal choosing to love me. Just because they are in my home does not mean they have to love me, they will get fed anyway. The fact that I can sit down and within seconds have 2 sometimes 3 cats automatically wander over and curl up on or next to me is mind blowing. Stop and think about that for a moment …. Another species is attached to you, loves you, misses you, and depends on you.
There was one time that I was deep cleaning my bed room and had taken my bed apart to move it out and clean the floors. In the process I feel spectacularly and loudly. I landed on my wrist and for a second thought I broke it. I cried out. I panicked. Sheba came running. Sheba howled like a banshee. Sheba ran from me to windows to the front door and back to me. Sheba nudged me and howled and howled and howled. She was legit worried. She was desperately trying to get me help. I picked myself up and grabbed her and held her and cried. I have never had any living thing show that much concern for me in my entire life! Her mama was down and she was going to get me help! That is loyalty!
When I was sick with a kidney stone and writhing in pain all 3 cats came and lay on top of my stomach, purring as hard as they could. They knew something was wrong and they knew the vibrations from their purrs would comfort me … and it did.
Allah as blessed us with companions in this life. The prophet himself has many pets. He mourned for 3 days when his camel died. He had a Turkish Angora cat (like Sheba) named Muezza that he adored. One day when Muezza was asleep on his robe he had to get up and he cut the robe around where the cat was asleep so as to not awaken and disturb the cat. I love my cats but if they are on me and I need to get up I often just move them and I remember this every single time and I feel so bad! They deserve better!
Allah has said that whomever we love for his sake we will be with in heaven. The Quran also tells us in 6:38 that animals have souls and will be gathered to him on the last day. We also know that any act of kindness or evil done to an animal is the exact same as doing it to a human being, there is absolutely no distinctions between the two. Animals will testify for or against us on judgment day according to how we treated them. I just hope that the animals I come into contact with have only great things to say about me. I do my very best to treat them how I would want to be treated.
I am proud to be part of a long history of cat lovers. One of the greatest companions of Prophet Muhammad was Abu Hurayrah, a nickname which means 'father of kittens'. Abu Hurayrah was the first feral cat caregiver! He was given the name because he was known to always have a kitten in my hands caring for it. He fed and cared for many cats that thrived around the mosque. It is very common overseas to walk into a mosque and see cats lounging in the mosque. That is a practice is sadly forsaken in most American mosques. Islam even pioneered the anti breeder movement! Islam forbids the buying or selling of cats. They should be given and accepted but not a business option. Why? Because when you make a living being with a soul into a business it is forbidden. All living things have value.
Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, ‘A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.’ Allah’s Apostle (SAW) further said ‘(Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), you neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.’ –Buhari, Volume 3, Book 40, Number 553.
Prophet (SAW) prayed the eclipse prayer, and then said, ‘Hell was displayed so close that I said: O my Lord! Am I going to be one of its inhabitants?’ Suddenly he saw a woman. I think he said, who was being scratched by a cat. He said, ‘What is wrong with her?’ He was told, ‘She had imprisoned the cat till it died of hunger.’ – Buhari, Volume 3, Book 40, Number 552