Rabbits and Cats

Dec 28, 2017

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Photograph by Randy Koga

Indoor house cats typically will peacefully coexist with pet rabbits if given proper introductions and supervision. Some even develop close friendships.

Exercise caution during introductions. If kitty is aggressive or rabbit is scared, stop the interaction. A majority of rabbit and cat introductions don’t run into any major issues.

Start with bunny in a large cage, one with bars too small for the cat to reach in. Bunny should have room to run around and stand up – movements kitty needs to become accustomed to. Provide a cardboard hidey box inside the cage so bunny can feel safe inside. When both are comfortable with each other’s movements and smells (this can take days, weeks or months), move forward with your introductions. Hold kitty on your lap and let bunny investigate at his own pace. Continue short sessions until everyone is feeling comfortable and peaceful together. If bunny is new in your home, don’t begin introductions until she is feeling confident and comfortable in her new environment.

Don’t be surprised if bunny is the dominant personality in the relationship. Rabbits can be bossy and territorial, sometimes causing a wary, defensive reaction from kitty. Ideally, kitty will leave if the bunny is being too bossy but watch out for defensive swipes — this is the most common way for a rabbit to be injured by a cat companion. Provide a safe place of retreat for each animal. A cat tree for kitty and a wooden hidey box for bunny work great.

Cat claws and mouths carry harmful bacteria. Even a playful swat or love bite to your rabbit can cause a serious abscess (infection). Trim claws monthly. Consider using claw covers.

Don’t use clumping cat litter. Clumping cat litter is dangerous to rabbits, as they are likely to ingest it and cause a deadly intestinal blockage.

Keeping a high-prey-drive cat or dog separated from a pet rabbit is critical but difficult and dangerous. A split-second accident can be fatal for the rabbit. If you think a cat or dog is not trustworthy with a small animal trust your gut. Trying to keep them forever separated in the same home is incredibly high risk, and this approach has failed many times.

by Amy Ramnaraine, House Rabbit Society Licensed Educator, MN

Resources:
Cats and Rabbits
Cats and Rabbits Facebook Group
PurrNTell Video

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