Is it permissible to sell animals such as a cat?
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
Basically, the selling of animals depends on the type of animal or insect. If it is beneficial for people such as poultry from chicken, cow and others, then the trade of beneficial animals such as these is valid.
Whilst, if the animal is of not benefit for humans such as jungle cats (for it is a wild animal), beetle, scorpion, snake, worm, mouse, ant, dog, swine and others that are unbeneficial for people (and are harmful such as mouse and swine), then the trade of such animals or insects is invalid.
The author of the book al-Fiqh al-Manhaji said: “It is invalid to sell poisonous insects or unbeneficial animals. However, selling a tiger for the purpose of hunting, elephant for battle, monkey to protect property, bee to harvest its honey and others, is permissible. It is permissible based on the reasoning that all of these animals are beneficial according to the local custom and permissible by syarak.” 
Imam al-Nawawi in al-Majmu’ stated: “Unbeneficial animals (of no benefit to humans) is invalid to be sold such as beetle, scorpion, snake, worm, mouse, ant and other insects like it. Our ashab (Syafi’iyyah scholars) said: it isn’t considered (these animals) as beneficial, except (even if there is a benefit) it is too small.” 
According to the above question, scholars have differing opinions on this issue.
- First: The opinion that states that the trade of cats is an absolute prohibition based on the hadith from Abu Zubair RA:
سَأَلْتُ جَابِرًا عَنْ ثَمَنِ الْكَلْبِ وَالسِّنَّوْرِ قَالَ زَجَرَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ ذَلِكَ
“I asked Jabir about the price of a dog and a cat; he said: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) disapproved of that.” 
In another hadith narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah R.Anhuma, he said:
نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ ثَمَنِ الْكَلْبِ وَالسِّنَّوْرِ
“The God’s Messenger forbade payment for dogs and cats. 
- Second: The opinion of the jumhur of scholars including madhhab Syafie which permit the trade of cats if the cat is beneficial such as to catch a mouse, then it is ruled halal and permissible. Likewise, if it is a wild animal, then it is impermissible. Some stated that cats are prohibited to be sold for in the early Islam era, it is considered as najis, afterwards after it is sabit from Rasullullah PBUH that cats are pure, then the trade of cats are permissible.
Imam al-Nawawi stated that the Prophet PBUH prohibited (money source) from the trade of cats. He cited the words of al-Qaffal: What is meant (the prohibition of the trade of cats in this hadith) is that it refers to wild cats, for they (wild cats) are unbeneficial in terms of entertaining (for people) or other benefits. I (Imam al-Nawawi) states: “According to our madhhab (al-Syafie), selling domesticated (tame) cats is valid and this is stated by Imam Syafie himself and others.” 
Imam al-Nawawi further states in al-Majmu’: “Selling house cats (domesticated) is permissible and there is no khilaf on this opinion amongst us (Syafi’iyyah) except what is presented by al-Baghawi in his book Syarh Mukhtasar al-Muzani, from Ibn al-‘As, which states that (selling tame cats) is impermissible, however, this is a syaz (lone) opinion, batil and rejected.” 
In Syarh Sahi Muslim, Imam al-Nawawi states: “If it included (an animal) as beneficial (or of benefit to humans), then this trade is valid and the profit of the trade is permissible. This is the opinion of our madhhab (al-Syafie) and the madhhab of all scholars, except (one opinion) that is narrated by Ibnu al-Munzir.” 
We respect the difference of opinion in this matter. However, we are inclined towards that the trade of cats is makruh (discouraged) according to the restriction based on the prophetic evidence as well as respecting the scholars’ opinion in this matter.
May Allah SWT grant us understanding in comprehending this religion. Amin.