Your home and your family extends well beyond just the humans who live there. For many of us, animals are just as important a part of the set up as anything else. But when choosing which furry friend to adopt, you have to think about how they’ll fit in with the dynamic of the house.
Pairing different animals together can go one of two ways; it’ll either be beautifully harmonious or the two will have a serious falling out. The problem is that some animals are naturally more dominant and potentially dangerous than others.
Cats might look like cute innocent creatures but their natural instinct is to hunt and kill. On the other hand, rabbits are delicate prey animals that have pretty much zero self defence. This means that these two animals are not suited to living together.
That said, there are some owners that have successfully kept cats and rabbits in the same home but there’s a lot of work involved. Plus, you can’t guarantee good results and with the rabbit’s life at risk, it isn’t always worth it.
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Cats vs Rabbits – Why Do Cats Hunt?
Domestic kitties are furry, cute, and yes, very stubborn. But these characteristics make up just a small part of the cat’s entire personality. When you consider that these are direct relatives of larger animals like lions and tigers, it is easy to see how they could be a danger to much smaller, vulnerable animals.
Cats are obligate carnivores. While they do not eat plant based foods, they will feed on animals that do and this is how they obtain that part of their nutrition. What’s more, don’t expect a cat to be too fussy when it comes to catching prey. They will eat everything from birds and mice to rabbits, chipmunks and other small animals. Do cats eat rabbits? Yes, they do. However, a cat may hunt and kill a rabbit for reasons other than food.
Cats don’t hunt only when they are hungry. After all, you are providing it with all the cat food it needs at home. But you will notice that your well fed cat still hunts. Domestic cats have an urge to hunt just like any other feline and this is often exercised in the form of hunting for fun.
Cats may stalk, chase, and pounce on vulnerable animals just to pass the time or just because they are there. This means that bringing a rabbit into your home could stir up some severe temptation in your kitty. Puss might not even want to eat bun but the very sight of the animal could be enough to bring out her primal instincts.
Don’t get us wrong, there may be domestic cats that kill and eat smaller pets within the home but this won’t usually be the case. If anything, you may find your poor rabbit brought to you as a gift while your cat happily chows down on the food in his bowl. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but sadly, it’s the truth.
Most modern rabbit owners keep their pets indoors. While it was commonplace to put rabbits in an outdoor hutch many years ago, that’s not something that is advised these days. However, some people do still choose to do this and provided that the hutch is large enough, out of extreme temperatures and draughts, and secure, this is OK.
The problem with keeping your rabbits outside is that you can’t offer them the same protection from local wildlife or other domestic animals that may be roaming about.
Even If your rabbit is inside, you may notice that it starts to shake when a cat is in the vicinity.
Did you know that male cats will often travel as far as seven miles from home? This means that, even if there aren’t cats in your local vicinity, they could come from elsewhere. If they spot your bunnies, the temptation may get the better of them. So, if you’re keeping your rabbits outdoors, it’s essential to make sure they’re well protected.
If you buy a rabbit hutch from a pet store, you’ll usually find that it is flimsy and certainly not secure enough to offer protection from predators. For this reason, we would always suggest building a hutch yourself. Or, if this is not possible, hire a woodworking specialist who can do this for you.
It may be a pricier option but when it comes to your rabbits safety and wellbeing, there is no cost too high.
It isn’t only cats that you’ll have to worry about if you keep your rabbits outdoors. Depending on where you live, there may be issues with racoons, foxes, snakes, and a whole host of other animals, including cats.
Prevention is better than cure, as they say and so deterring these animals from your yard is the best option. There is no guarantee that you’ll keep them away but some of the things you might consider doing are:
- Use motion sensor lighting to startle and deter predators at night.
- Keep your yard free from debris and food scraps that might attract cats and other animals.
- If your rabbit likes to run and hop around your garden, which most do, make sure that they only do this when supervised.
- If at all possible, keep your rabbit indoors.
It will prove very difficult to keep a cat and rabbit in the same house as they’re naturally going to be against one another. When it comes to cats vs rabbits, predator and prey instincts are likely to emerge. But then, there are some very odd animal relationships out there that have surprised many people. Just look at some of these unbelievable interspecies relationships.
So, with that in mind, if you are keen to keep a cat and a rabbit together, there may be some things you can do to encourage a friendship. Don’t get disheartened if this doesn’t happen. We would always urge you to err on the side of caution and be prepared for the worst possible outcome; they don’t get along and one has to go!
One of the most important things to do when keeping a cat in the same house as a rabbit is to ensure that the rabbit has its own safe space. This means, at the very least, providing it with a secure cage that the cat cannot access.
Since cats are good climbers and are very inquisitive, no matter where you place the rabbit cage, they’re going to want to take a look. For this reason, it’s a better idea to have a dedicated room for the rabbit cage where the cat is not permitted to enter. Keep the door closed at all times.
According to the RSPCA in Australia, rabbits and kittens have the best chance of getting along when they are introduced at as early an age as possible. When first doing this, you should only allow the animals to see each from a distance. This is best done with two people; one to hold the kitten and one to hold the rabbit. Just let the animals become familiar with the presence of the other.
Over the course of a couple of these interactions, you might progress to letting the pair sniff one another and move a little closer together. It is imperative to monitor these interactions and separate the animals if there are any problems.
Regardless of how well your cat and rabbit seem to be getting along, it is vital that they are never left unsupervised together. Keep in mind that these are animals with instincts and the smallest thing could upset them and result in a fight breaking out that your rabbit isn’t going to win.
For this reason, it’s imperative to continually monitor the behavior of your pets when they are spending time together. As during the introduction phase, if you notice any aggression, separate the pair immediately.
A lot of people think that, as long as they keep their rabbit out of the cat’s reach, there won’t be a problem. Rabbits are very timid animals and since their natural instinct is to run and hide, they’ll likely become easily frightened just from seeing a predator.
This means that if your cat simply walks past the rabbit enclosure, it could be enough to alarm your bunny. Happening on a single occasion will likely do not harm but repeated exposure to this type of stress is not good for your rabbit’s health.
It can bring on gastro problems, heart issues, and in the most severe cases, it’s perfectly possible for a rabbit to die of fright. The answer? It’s probably not best to keep these two critters together.
Cats are predatory animals that will prey on any type of small creature including rabbits. For this reason, it isn’t advisable to keep the two species together in the same household. Moreover, if you want to ensure your rabbits are 100%, you should avoid placing their hutch outdoors where there is a risk of local cats entering your yard and causing them harm.
The problem is that cats won’t always eat a rabbit but they will happily kill it for the sheer joy it brings them. This isn’t malicious; it’s just in the cat’s nature and it’s up to us as pet owners to provide the right protection for our furry friends.