Bunnies and Other Pets Part 1: Rabbits and Cats Living Together

can rabbits and cats get along?

I know a lot of you who decide to get a rabbit also have a love for other animals. Because of that, I’ve decided to make a quick three part series of articles going over the ways you can help introduce pets of different species and help them coexist in the same household.

Note that not all pets will be able to get along. It’s possible for rabbits to become friends with cats, guinea pigs, and even dogs sometimes, but it’s also quite possible that they will need to be kept separate. So I recommend making plans for separate living spaces for your pets so that you can separate them if they do not get along.

I’ll start with rabbits and cats living together. This is a scenario that can work surprisingly well most of the time. It does depend on the disposition of your cat and your rabbit. But I’ve known many people who have cats and rabbits living together with no problems.

My sister is one of those people. After her rabbit’s bondmate passed away, she allowed her cats and rabbit to meet and check each other out. Over time, they became friends and her cats will often groom her rabbit. This is a story that I’ve heard many times, and I’ve come to realize that cats and rabbits are often really good to have together as pets.

Of course, there are caveats and precautions you need to take before allowing a cat and rabbit to hang out together. And that’s what this article is about.

What to do if you have a rabbit and cat in your home?

Rabbits and cats can be an excellent match, but you have to be very careful. Cats are predators, and rabbits are prey animals, so there are some natural instincts you may have to contend with. 

However, I do NOT recommend leaving a cat and rabbit alone and unsupervised because there is a potential for injury. The two pets can usually learn to be friends with time, but will likely be wary of each other to begin with.

Luckily, rabbits (when they are adults) are typically bigger than the animals that house cats would generally hunt. Unless your can has a strong prey drive, they are not likely to immediately chase after an adult rabbit. If you are bringing home a baby rabbit or a small dwarf breed, you’ll need to be extra careful, because a house cat might try to attack, depending on their overall prey drive and personality.

Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you have a separate room your rabbit can stay in to be separate from the cat until you can figure out how well the two can get along. 

Are your pets’ personalities compatible?

Before deciding to bring a rabbit into your cat’s home (or vice versa), you want to consider whether your two pets are likely to have compatible personalities. This means making sure your cat is not too prey-driven and making sure your rabbit is not too anxious around potential predators. 

If you have a cat that always seems to want to go after squirrels or birds outside, it’s probably not a good idea to introduce a rabbit to the family. Similarly, if you have a very territorial or aggressive rabbit, you’ll want to be very careful about bringing any other pets into the family since rabbits can bite and injure other household pets.

The other concern is whether or not your rabbit will be too anxious and stressed being around a predator all the time. Even if your cat shows no signs of hunting the rabbit, the smell of your cat can be enough to stress out a rabbit who is predisposed to being anxious and stressed. So if your rabbit seems to be the overly anxious type, it might be better to not get a cat until your rabbit has time to gain more confidence.

Consider the size of your pets

It’s also a good idea to consider the size of the rabbit you’re bringing home. Bunnies typically weigh anywhere from 2 pounds all the way up to about 12 pounds (some breeds can be bigger, but they are less common). 

A two-pound rabbit might be small enough that your cat will try to hunt them, but a larger rabbit breed might even be bigger than your cat. That’s why it’s typically a safer bet to go with a large rabbit when you also have a cat as a pet. The size difference will disrupt their predator-and-prey relationship. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a smaller rabbit. My sister has a Holland Lop (which is one of the smallest rabbit breeds), and her cats all get along great with the rabbit and never try to hunt him. As long as your cats are pretty chill, it’s likely they’ll get along with your rabbit without too much issue.

introducing cat and rabbit
When you first introduce a cat and a rabbit, make sure there is a fence or barrier between them.

How to introduce your rabbit and your cat

Rabbits and cats will often be able to get along and become a part of the family together. However, you need to be careful with their introduction to avoid aggression and injury.

  1. Introduce your rabbit and cat with a fence or enclosure separating them. The first time you let your pets see each other, make sure there is some form of barrier between them. This will prevent the two pets from attacking each other or immediately getting aggressive. You also want to give your rabbit a hiding house or box they can run to if they immediately get scared.
  2. Observe your pets to see how they react. It’s a good sign if the two animals are curious about each other right from the start. Most commonly, they will be cautious of each other, the rabbit is more likely to run away in fear, but some cats are scared of rabbits too. Let your pets check each other out for 30 minutes, but separate them early if they show signs of stress or aggression.
  3. Continue for 1-2 weeks (or until your rabbit and cat are comfortable seeing each other). If your pets are doing okay together, continue to allow them to interact in the same way for the next week or so to help them get used to each other. Usually, they will start to warm up to each other and become less afraid. Watch for any signs of aggression from either animal.
  4. Allow your pets to interact without a barrier. If the two are doing okay with a fence between them, then you can cautiously allow them to interact without the barrier. Supervise them very closely to make sure they are both still comfortable around the other animal. Start with short sessions, and then increase the amount of time they’re together as your cat and rabbit show they are comfortable around each other.

Even if your pets seem to be okay with each other fairly quickly, it’s best to continue to only allow them to interact when you can supervise them for at least a couple of months. Only once you are completely sure the two animals will not try to harm each other is it okay to allow them to interact without direct supervision.

I also recommend continuing to keep your rabbit and cat apart indefinitely when you are not home or when you are asleep, just to be on the safe side. 

How to keep your pets separate if they don’t get along

Unfortunately, some cats and rabbits don’t end up getting along with each other. If your efforts at introducing and bonding the two animals aren’t going well, you have to make arrangements for your two pets to permanently live in separate spaces.

The easiest way to handle this is to keep your rabbit in one room of the house where your cat is not allowed. At the very least, you need to make sure your rabbit has a hutch that the cat cannot get into. You’ll also need to give your rabbit some exercise time while the cat is kept in another room.

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Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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