If you own rabbits, then one of your sole responsibilities is to keep them safe and protected. Whether you also own a cat, you are housing your rabbits outside, or if you know of neighboring cats in the area, its important to know about how these two different species interact and get along. Will cats naturally and instinctively attack a rabbit? Do they see them as prey?
So, do cats attack rabbits? Cats will commonly attack rabbits. Hunting and killing weaker animals is what comes naturally to cats and they retain the survival instincts of their wild ancestors. Cats will not always attack for food, but may do so as a means of play and to play the role of mother/teacher.
It kind of goes without saying that it is essential to protect your rabbit(s) from any cats at all times.
Whether this is your new cat or a neighbors pet – the reality remains the same.
But there is some good news here.
Rabbits and cats can get along in time, but it does take some effort and time within controlled interactions/environments.
Let us now take a closer look at why putting these two animals together, to begin with can be problematic, before turning to some practical things you can do to help support a more peaceful, cohabitating environment.
- 1 A Rabbits Natural Instincts
- 2 Are Cats A Danger To Rabbits?
- 3 Do Cats Kill Rabbits?
- 4 Do Rabbits And Cats Get Along?
- 5 How To Protect your Rabbit(s) From Cats
- 6 In Summary
A Rabbits Natural Instincts
While rabbits are gentle and social, they are also prey animals. They know this. Your rabbit(s) will display certain behaviors indicative of its wild instincts and being routinely and regularly ‘in danger’.
So much so that new rabbits will be wary of their new owners. If you have a young pet rabbit, it may take some time for them to get used to you and see you as a protector and friend rather than another predator.
Even though they are perfectly safe in your home, they will often sleep with their eyes open, particularly when young or within a new environment.
Rabbits also do not like to show any vulnerability to their predators. Keeping their eyes open helps them to be more alert and less likely to be attacked, as they can dash away upon hearing an animal approach.
Rabbits get stressed very readily if they perceive a threat approaching; they can even have a heart attack and die instantly. Their sensitivity can be a severe hindrance to their well-being so its important you make them feel comfortable, at ease and protected at all times.
The can be challenging. It seems that many animals are out to hunt and kill rabbits, including raccoons, birds of prey, foxes and dogs.
Cats are no exception and we need to understand why this is.
Are Cats A Danger To Rabbits?
Yes, cats are a danger to rabbits. They instinctively want to hunt and a rabbit serves as an ideal opportunity to do so.
If feral cats are roaming around your area, or if your neighbors have cats, you must assume that they will pose a danger to your rabbit.
You must take the necessary precautions to safeguard your pet from fierce felines. If your bunny lives outdoors and often spends time roaming, they are easy prey to the local cat population.
You must make sure that their hutch is secure and protected from predators. Ensure that the bars are narrow and that a cat paw/claw could not possibly penetrate through and injure your rabbit(s).
If you like to let your rabbit roam in an exercise run, it must be safe for them also. Cats are agile, nimble and good climbers, so it is imperative that you purchase a pen with a roof. Cats can attack quickly even in your presence so even if you are around it could be too late.
This is why you should look at a pen with a cover, yet still has an open bottom for your rabbits to consume grass.
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With all this said, not all cats will attack a rabbit. The least likely too are those cats that have been introduced and socialized together with your rabbits before.
So if you do have a pet cat, you can look to improve their relationship with one another. This will take time, patience and careful planning and consideration. We will explore how you can do this further later on in this article.
If your cat is used to sharing his home with pet rabbits, you will ultimately have less to worry about.
This does not mean you should leave them together alone. Just that they may be able to spend some time in each others company without the risk of attack. Being present and able to separate the two is pivotal mind you.
However, if bringing a rabbit home is a new experience for your cat, you will likely run into some issues.
Whatever you do, do not rush them to get along. Cats are hunters and predatorial, and rabbits are prey.
Getting these two very different animals to co-exist peacefully will take time, effort, and a lot of supervision, but it will be worth it in the end. Always err on the side of caution.
Do Cats Kill Rabbits?
Cats do kill rabbits. Hunting and killing weaker animals is what comes naturally to cats. As unfortunate as it is, they are not technically doing anything wrong.
Although cats have been domesticated for over 10,000 years, cats still possess the hunting instincts of their wild ancestors. Biologically, they still are in possession of a digestive system that allows them to digest raw meat.
In the wild, cat mothers teach their young offspring how to eat by bringing home their dead or injured catch. Domestic cats still possess this behavior.
However, due to the modern environment and domestication, most female cats will not have kittens to present and show their ways.
By bringing their catch to your home, your cat fulfilling their role as a teacher. However, it is now you/the pet owner, who is playing the role of the inexperienced kitten.
With all this being said, hunting rabbits is not only about obtaining food but also about their love of catching prey. Catching a rabbit is an exciting reward, just like it is with any other other successful hunt.
Unfortunately, some cats like to torture their prey before killing it and will proudly carry the prey in their mouth before offering a dying, tortured animal to their owner.
This is just a natural occurrence that can happen if you own a cat. If you own rabbits, you could be at the other end of such an event. It is therefore crucial you remain vigilant at all times.
Do Rabbits And Cats Get Along?
Rabbits and cats can get along and even become good friends. They need to become comfortable with each other and build trust in each others company.
If you handle both animals carefully and with consideration, your rabbit should begin to feel more confident with the cat. Equally, the cat should respect the rabbit and realize it is not to be attacked.
Sometimes, regardless of the steps you take this result will not be able to be achieved and you will have to keep them separate from one another at all times.
There are some steps that you can take to introduce the two animals; however, this isn’t a quick fix formula.
Keep Your Rabbit In A Secure Room
It’s essential that your rabbit feels relaxed, calm and safe. Simply the sight of your cat can easily stress out your rabbit with serious affects on their health. One such example is gut stasis, which can be fatal.
Do not expect your cat and rabbit to get along in the very beginning, and do not attempt to introduce them at this stage. In the beginning, you need to stop your cat from chasing your rabbit at all costs.
Its a good idea to place your rabbits hutch in a room that your cat does not have access to. Keep the door closed and provide ample space between the two.
If you have a new pet rabbit and/or a new kitten, you need to give them time and space in their new environment first.
Transfer The Cat’s Scent To Your Rabbit And Vice Versa
Before you allow them to meet face to face, do a scent swap. This involves stroking one of the animals with a plain piece of fabric, and stroke the other animal with the fabric.
Repeat this as often as feel is necessary.
This will help both animals learn about the other without any direct contact. It will also help familiarize them when they do so
Place The Rabbit In A Hutch/Cage By Themselves
The hutch/cage should have ample room for the rabbit to move around. It should also be secure, have thin mesh bars, and enclosed hiding places for your rabbits to go. There should be sufficient hay, toys, food, and water.
Your cat should not have access to the hutch at any time. This is your rabbits safe space, home and enclosure. You want them to feel completely at ease here.
Give Your Cat And Rabbit A Chance To Meet
When the time is right, carry your cat/kitten into the room of the hutch and allow the two animals to interact through the hutch. Do this often and preferably daily.
Be sure to hold your cat at all times and leave the room at any sings of stress by your rabbit or excitement by your cat.
Make sure that the rabbit stays in the hutch during these interactions and has hiding places within the enclosure. Observe as they grow accustomed to each other’s scents, movements, and behaviors.
Allow Your Rabbit Some Time Outside Of the Hutch
The best time to do this is when both animals are relaxed and your cat is well-fed, and even a little sleepy.
Keep your cat restrained if needed, this will help your rabbit to feel safe.
Separate either pet, if they become uncomfortable or agitated at any stage.
Closely Monitor Cat And Rabbit Interactions
You must observe your pets but avoid admonishing either pet unnecessarily as they will pick up on your disapproval very quickly. This could hinder any progress at friendship.
How To Protect your Rabbit(s) From Cats
Rabbits that live outside will always be at risk from predators like cats. But if your rabbit(s) must live outdoors, you must purchase a predator-proof the rabbit hutch. This is an excellent, well-reviewed hutch on Amazon that you can get for a great price.
Wooden hutches are ideal and should have weld mesh wiring. The door of the hutch should have a latch with a secure bolt.
When placing your hutch down, make sure that it’s on an impervious surface, such as concrete or marble; this will prevent animals like foxes and cats from digging underneath.
Predators like cats, look for weak spots on the rabbit’s enclosure, so, the hutch must have strong support.
Wood is preferable, as it makes things hard for animals who will try to scratch their way through.
A wooden frame on a wooden stand is the safest option for your bunny. You must put a sturdy roof over the hutch; this will make an ideal deterrent from predators such as cats, who would try to climb over to get at the little bunnies.
For added protection against cats and other attackers, consider electrical pet fencing. If any predator were to feel an electric shock, it would think again before returning for your rabbit(s).
Cats will instinctively attack rabbits; it’s in their nature and DNA. This is not something that we will ever be able to totally control.
This is why, as a rabbit owner, you need to be vigilant, careful, and wary of any cats/other potential predators.
Thankfully, in time, with patience and consistency, you can introduce a pet cat to your rabbits and help to form a bond and relationship between them.
While you will always need to be around and present within their company, the chance of attack can be greatly reduced and you can establish a more peaceful and less-threatening home environment.
Either way, its imperative that you do all you can to protect your rabbit from attack ahead of time.
Wondering what else a cat may attack? Then my following guides may be of interest
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.