We can understand why some pet parents may cringe at the thought of putting cats and rabbits together. At first glance, it does seem that doing so is asking for trouble. If your home had never sheltered furry creatures of different species simultaneously, you might be one of those who wants a definitive answer to the question: Do cats and bunnies get along?
Cats and rabbits don’t naturally make great housemates. They belong to opposing ends of the food chain, after all. Cats are predators. In fact, they’re obligate carnivores, meaning that they need to eat meat to round out their diet. Meanwhile, rabbits are prey animals that predators (like cats!) target for food. No wonder then that prospective pet owners get the jitters at the thought of raising these two companion animals together.
Can Cats and Bunnies Live Together under One Roof?
Just because cats are predators and rabbits are prey doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have both as pets. The reality is, domestic buns and kitties can live together peacefully and even become friends under the right circumstances.
If you intend to have a bun and a cat as pets, putting in the necessary effort to help them co-exist will help prevent harm from befalling either animal.
Factors That Can Determine How Well Rabbits and Cats Get Along
Age of Introduction
The best way to make cats and rabbits live peacefully with each other is to get them as pets when they’re still young. In that way, they’ll grow up thinking that being with one another is the most natural thing in the world. This lessens the impact of the prey-predator relationship in both animals.
Making an adult cat accept a rabbit as a companion and vice versa won’t be as easy as when the two grew up together. It can happen, but the process will take longer and require more effort.
The Temperament of Your Companion Animals
Not all buns have the same personality. The same holds for cats. That’s why the temperament of both animals is crucial in determining whether they’ll be able to live in harmony or not. The winning combination is a calm, submissive cat and an assertive (but not aggressive) rabbit.
An aggressive cat is more likely to attack a bunny than one with a placid personality. Meanwhile, a submissive rabbit might live in constant fear of the cat, an unhealthy situation that can lead to health issues.
The cat’s breed doesn’t generally dictate how aggressive your kitty is but take note of feline types with strong prey drives because they may not be the best companion for your bun.
The Size of the Rabbit
Rabbit breeds like the French Lop and Checkered Giant can grow as big as a medium-sized cat. The Flemish Giant can even outweigh a standard house cat.
So if you have an adult kitty and want to get a rabbit, choosing a bigger bun breed might work better than getting a mini bun. This is because cats are less inclined to attack animals that are their size or bigger than they are.
Tips to Increase the Chances That Your Bun and Kitty Will Get Along
Vaccinate Both Animals
Because some diseases can spread between species, update your pets’ vaccination schedules before introducing them to each other.
Spay or Neuter Your Pets
Hormones play a role in how aggressive or territorial your bun or kitty can get. Removing hormone-induced issues from the equation can help pave the way to a smoother relationship between your two companion animals.
Introduce Them Slowly
There’s no need to rush things. Slowly but surely works best in this situation. Although there’s no general rule on how to introduce your two pets to each other, you can try the following steps:
- Do a scent swap: Get your two pets used to each other’s scent even before a face-to-face introduction. Stroke each animal with a piece of fabric to get their scent on it. Then, rub the fabric you used on your bun on your cat and vice versa. This will let both animals become familiar with how their future companion’s smell.
- Keep the two separated at first: When you first introduce the two, keep them separated and simply allow them to see each other with a barrier between them. Your bun can stay inside a cage, and if he doesn’t seem ill at ease at the cat’s presence, you can allow your kitty to sniff the cage. Then do it the other way around. Keep the cat in a carrier or leashed harness and allow your bun to approach.
- Let the two interact: With the cat on a leash, let your bun out of the cage and come near your other fur baby. Do this at a time when both animals are relaxed and have just eaten.
- Increase their interaction time: If things go smoothly, you can try removing your cat’s leash and see how things go. Separate the two if either one looks scared or agitated.
- Closely monitor your bun and kitty: Ideally, your two fur babies should become more comfortable with each other over time. But it’s better to err on the side of caution and keep a watchful eye on your pets even if they seem to be on friendly terms.
Do Cats Attack Rabbits?
Cats are predators, and rabbits are prey, so there’s always the possibility that your pet cat will attack your bun. That can happen even if the two have bonded, so don’t take any chances. Always supervise interactions between your fur babies to ensure that play activities don’t turn into a game of survival.
That being said, you can reduce the risks of your kitty suddenly going into attack mode around your other pet. One of the best ways to do so is by satisfying their hunting instinct through play and exercise. Most cat toys appeal to the feline’s hunting predisposition. Tiring out your kitty using these toys will make him less inclined to stalk and chase his fellow companion animal.
This method is not fool-proof, so be alert and ready to intervene if the cat starts a chase.
Do Rabbits Attack Cats?
The scenario may seem unusual, but it’s been known to happen, especially if the bun precedes the cat in the home. A rabbit who’s been in the house before the cat came may regard the place as his territory. As a result, he’ll resent any intrusions and could attack the cat in an attempt to drive the intruder away.
You’ll need to intervene in this situation as well because it can lead to dire consequences. The cat can become terrified of your rabbit and fear his companion forever, or he might fight back and do serious harm to your bun.
So, Do Cats and Bunnies Get Along?
Although these two species aren’t inclined to be the best of friends, they can learn to live in peace under your care. However, you’ll need to manage their interactions carefully to help them get over their instinctive reactions to each other and develop a relationship that’s as close to friendship as it can get.
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