Many animal lovers want to keep multiple pets. However, it can be difficult to predict whether those pets can cohabitate safely, especially when one of those pets is a natural hunter and the other is prey. The good news is that many animals can get along just fine as long as they are introduced properly and carefully observed during their time together. Cats and rabbits are two such animals. If you love both of these fluffy critters, then here is some good news for you. Cats and rabbits can get along!
Read on as we get into the details of creating a healthy relationship between these two lovable pets.
Keeping Cats and Rabbits Safely
Cats and rabbits certainly seem like an odd pairing however, they are frequently kept as pets in the same household without problems. If you wish to have both as pets, there are a few things you will need to do to keep everyone safe. These precautions include:
Introduce them slowly
Don’t rush the interaction between your pet cat and pet rabbit. There are recommended steps to introduce these two pets and you should follow them to ensure a safe relationship. We have outlined some tips below to assist you in slowly introducing your cat and rabbit.
The younger the cat, the better
If you introduce a kitten and a rabbit, the kitten will grow up thinking the rabbit is a friend, not prey. This makes it easier for the two to maintain a peaceful relationship as they get older.
Make sure both pets have their own space away from the other
Cats are very territorial and must have a place they can call their own. They like to relax and feel safe in their own space. Rabbits also need a safe, relaxing place where they can rest. By making sure each pet has its own place, you will ensure that they feel safe and comfortable in your home.
Monitor interactions closely
Even if they are usually friends with your pet rabbit, cats are natural-born hunters. Rabbits can be very bossy and territorial. Monitoring these traits in both of your pets and making sure both are relaxed when they interact is very important.
Keep feeding time separate
Allowing both your cat and rabbit their own space to eat their meals will also calm anxiety over their interactions. Both can be territorial so keeping them away from each other when they eat will help tamp down any temptation to be territorial about their food.
How to Introduce Cats and Rabbits
If you want your cat and rabbit friendship to be a success, then there are several suggested steps you should follow. Remember, you should take introductions very slowly, and don’t be afraid to rewind to an earlier step if needed.
1. The first introduction should be done with the rabbit in a large cage. The bars of the cage should not be big enough for the cat to reach in. The cage should be large enough for the rabbit to hop around and stand up. There should also be a place for the rabbit to hide in the box. A smaller cardboard box or cave will do.
2. Bring the cat into the room where the rabbit is in its cage. Allow your cat to observe the rabbit without interfering. The cat must see the rabbit exhibiting normal behavior like hopping and standing on its hind legs so that they don’t associate that behavior with a threat of any kind. Make sure both animals are comfortable and are not showing signs of distress.
3. Next, you can help the animals get familiar with each other’s scent. The Humane Society recommends using a soft cloth to stroke the back of the rabbit and then the back of the cat. You can repeat this several times to help them get used to the other’s scent.
4. Allow this type of interaction to continue for at least an hour each day while you monitor the behavior of the two animals. If the rabbit seems stressed, you should remove the cat.
5. Once you have done this for several weeks, or longer, and the two animals are used to each other’s scents and movements, you can move on to the next step. Pick a time when both animals are relaxed and let the rabbit out of its cage. You should either keep the cat on a leash or in a cat carrier for this interaction.
6. After both animals are comfortable with this situation, you can allow both out at the same time, but make sure you are close by. Interestingly, the rabbit will often be the more aggressive party at this point. They may even charge at the cat to assert their dominance. This is actually a good thing as it shows the cat the rabbit is not food. A cat who is comfortable with the rabbit will just walk away.
7. Continue to monitor their interactions and always separate them if there are signs of stress from either animal. It is important to not yell at or punish either pet if they are not getting along. You should just separate them and try again at a different time.
Risks of Keeping Cats and Rabbits
There are a few risks of having both a cat and a rabbit. One of the biggest risks is the transfer of disease from one pet to the other. You should always keep your animals’ food, water, and litter boxes separate to prevent the transfer of bacteria or parasites between the two.
There is also the risk that the cat will attack the rabbit or that the rabbit will attack the cat. Either situation can result in injury for one or both animals. Interactions between animals can turn in an instant so you should always watch the cat and the rabbit when they are together.
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Cats and rabbits can get along and even be friends. Much of their relationship is dependent on you and how well you handle introductions between the two pets. If you are willing to take the time needed to introduce them slowly and monitor their interactions, then you can keep a cat and a rabbit together in your home.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels