Cats and rabbits are not natural roommates. Cats are instinctive predators and rabbits are natural prey for them. If you have an outdoor cat, it may have even brought you a wild rabbit as an offering.
Even if it seems worrying for the cohabitation between cat and rabbit. This does not necessarily mean that keeping cats and rabbits together is necessarily doomed to failure.
Introducing a cat to a rabbit when it’s young increases your chances of forming a successful cross-species bond. If two animals grow up together, they will ignore any rivalry and happily play together even cats and dogs.
Older pets are less likely to cohabit together because the brain is much less willing to do so, acting much less like a sponge.
You should also remember that both cat and rabbit are territorial. This means you’ll have to manage their dynamics and make sure neither pet gets jealous of the other.
I tell you everything you need to know to make cat and rabbit live together.
Can cat and rabbit live in the same house?
If you’re wondering if cats get along well with rabbits in the domestic state, the answer is that they can. These animals can live together. They can even become friends.
Despite this, cats and rabbits should never be left alone unsupervised. Even though they seem to have befriended each other, they are still animals and ruled by instinct. A cat could kill a rabbit in an instant.
Nor is it to blame a potential incident on a cat. Rabbits are extremely dominant and hierarchical. This can cause them to provoke the cat to have the territory.
If you’re expecting a cat and a rabbit to share a home, you’ll need to put a few things in place to make sure everything goes smoothly between them.
How to encourage the cat and the rabbit to live together?
In order for your cat and your rabbit to be happy, you will need to meet the needs of both animals. Cats and rabbits are similar in many ways.
Both species are territorial. Neither animal appreciates any change in their routine. Perhaps more importantly, both get jealous if they feel like they’re not the center of attention.
The steps to put in place for a harmonious home with a cat and a rabbit are as follows:
- Never leave pets alone and unsupervised.
- If the animals show signs of aggression, separate them until they are both calm again.
- Try to pair the animals as close in size as possible. A large rabbit can correspond en masse to a small cat. This makes the cat less likely to attack.
- Don’t let the rabbit roam freely until he is completely comfortable and confident. If a rabbit fights back, a cat will be intimidated and leave it alone.
- Try to keep your cat’s paws on the ground around the rabbit. If your cat is on higher ground, your rabbit may interpret the fact that it is in ambush to kill it.
- Put both animals into a strict routine and spend the same amount of time with them. If one animal thinks the other is a favorite, it may become belligerent. Cats and rabbits can get jealous.
- Sterilize both animals. This will reduce their aggression and territorial instincts.
Again, everything will be easier if you put a rabbit and a cat together when both animals are young. Both animals will be more adaptable in their early years. Likewise, if they grow up together, strong bonds will be created between them.
Introduce a Rabbit into a Cat’s House
Before bringing a rabbit into a cat’s home, think carefully about its suitability. Does your cat play well with other animals? It will be easier if he is not very territorial.
If you are sure that this dynamic can work, you will have to be patient. When you first bring your rabbit home, put it in a cage that your cat won’t be able to put its paws in.
Your bunny will be housebound for a few days, so he’ll also need plenty of room to run, jump and play.
Keep your rabbit in its cage for a few days. Let the cat approach and tame the scent of the rabbit. If the cat tries to enter the cage, lead it away to make it understand that it should not.
Once both animals exhibit equal levels of curiosity, introduce them carefully. Don’t expect your cat and rabbit to start bonding immediately. The simple fact of not attacking is already a first victory.
Over time, you can begin to leave your cat and rabbit more free from the confines of a cage. Just be vigilant in watching them and separate them at the first sign of conflict.
Your two pets may become inseparable but even if they are indifferent to each other, call it a victory. Since cats and rabbits are both territorial, they show a remarkable willingness to be left alone.
Introducing a kitten to a rabbit
If you already have a rabbit and you introduce him to a kitten, the situation remains precarious. Your rabbit will be accustomed to its freedom and will be wary of this intruder.
The good news is that kittens are just as social as rabbits. This means that the two animals are more likely to work out their differences and become friends.
You will need to put your kitten at ease. This means introducing them slowly and steadily into the home, one room at a time.
A new home is terrifying for a cat, so a rabbit can scare it even more. Do not introduce animals until the kitten is confident.
Once you are ready to present the animals, choose a room that no animal knows. If that’s not an option, make it an unfamiliar place for the rabbit. This way they are less likely to be territorial and aggressive.
From there, step back and watch like a hawk. Let the two animals smell and smell each other. If they start fighting, separate them immediately. Otherwise, let them interact for a few minutes and repeat the trick the next day.
It will take patience, but eventually the two animals will come to terms with each other. If you’re lucky, they’ll even bond and play together.
Introducing an Adult Cat to a Rabbit
In truth, an adult cat is much more likely to be aggressive. Older cats have had more time to hone their hunting instincts and are less interested in play.
Senior cats are unlikely to adapt well. The lifestyle change will already stress them out. A potentially cantankerous new roommate to deal with can push them to be aggressive.
Do cats attack rabbits?
It is always possible for a cat to attack a rabbit. After all, these two animals are natural enemies in nature. When you add the feline hunting instinct to the equation, a conflict is likely.
It can happen at any time. Even if your cat and rabbit seem to have bonded, you can’t be complacent. Cats can attack him at any time, especially if they are frustrated.
The best way to prevent cats from attacking rabbits is to temper their instincts in other ways. This can be done through play.
Cats only play one game: track, hunt and capture. Every cat toy you find in a pet store is designed to appeal to this predisposition. 20 minutes of playtime will exhaust your cat and keep their urge to hunt under control.
As a result, your cat is less likely to chase your rabbit. If they start a chase, you’ll have to separate them quickly.
One of two things will happen if your cat chases a rabbit. The rabbit can stand firm, which will intimidate your cat. Alternatively, they may panic and run away. This will cause your cat’s blood to rush.
Once a rabbit is marked as prey for your cat, it will no longer be able to control itself. They will chase until they get what they want. Even if your bunny escapes, he will be terrified of your cat forever.
Do Rabbits Attack Cats?
Rabbits are also likely to be the antagonist in this relationship. It may sound strange, but an aggressive rabbit can make your cat’s life very difficult.
When a rabbit feels confident and comfortable in its home, it becomes territorial. Cats will roam around as if they own the house, marking their territory as they go. Sound familiar? It’s exactly the same behavior as a cat. Naturally, this can lead to conflict.
The difference is in how far a rabbit will take things. A cat may try to intimidate a rabbit. Most of the time, a confident rabbit will bare their teeth and threaten them right away.
This will deter a cat from going further. They don’t need that kind of hassle – they’ll find easier prey. But the rabbit may want to drive the point home.
This can lead to a rabbit chasing after a cat, trying to show dominance. They can bite a cat’s tail or even try to mount it. This will cause a fight or flight response.
Can cats get sick from rabbits and vice versa?
It is possible for a cat to become ill when a rabbit is not feeling well. This usually happens when the two animals share parasites.
Fleas will happily jump from rabbits to cats, and back again. If the rabbit is sick, then the flea can transmit the infection to your cat. Other biting insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, can have a similar impact.
The biggest health problem involving rabbits and cats via insect bites is tularemia, or rabbit fever. It is a bacterial infection with variable symptoms.
Rabbits can also infect cats with respiratory illnesses through their proximity.
If your rabbit lives with ringworm, it will also be contagious to cats. In such a case, you must quarantine your rabbit until it recovers.
Of course, this all works in reverse as well. They are zoonotic diseases, which means that they are intra-species infections. This means that a cat is just as likely to infect a rabbit if it is infected.
This is probably more worrying. Rabbits have lower immunity than cats and are more likely to fight infection. Avoid animal interactions if one of your pets is sick.
How to keep cats away from rabbits?
It is always possible that your cat will seek to stalk and chase your rabbit. This is especially likely if your cat is chasing wild rabbits outdoors. Cats can’t just ignore millennia of natural instinct.
You will need to secure your rabbit’s cage. Make sure it has a roof and that all the bars are narrow enough not to let the paws of the felines in.
However, your cat can still terrorize your rabbit from the outside. Felines are patient and can sit and wait for hours. This will terrify your poor bunny, causing him endless stress.
Avoid this by applying cat-deterrent scents and sensations around your rabbit’s hutch. Citrus flavors are best for this. Rabbits aren’t crazy about citrus fruits either, but they do better than cats.
Cats also don’t like the sticky feeling under their paws. Double-sided tape can be a great deterrent. Apply it to the floor around your rabbit’s cage, and over it if necessary.
This doesn’t change the fact that your rabbit will need exercise outside of its cage. Create a safe place in your garden and let them out for at least 2 hours. Ideally 4.
Your cat should be confined indoors during this time. While being chased will no doubt inspire your rabbit to run, it’s not beneficial to either animal.
Cats and rabbits aren’t natural bedmates, but that doesn’t mean they’re enemies. Many felines and rabbits find common ground at home, given the right circumstances.
Naturally, this is a relationship that you will need to manage carefully. These two animals are always at risk of ruining a friendship in an instant.
The final word
Monitor your cat and rabbit and make sure both animals feel equally loved and valued. This is the key to a happy and harmonious dynamic. And remember, your pets don’t have to be best friends. Simple coexistence is a great relationship between a rabbit and a cat.