Can Rabbits Get Along With Other Pets? (Cats, Dogs, Others)


Do rabbits get along with other pets?

So you already have a cat or dog, or maybe some other wonderful pet, and you’re thinking about bringing a little bunny into the family. Or maybe it’s the opposite, and you’re thinking about bringing another pet into your rabbit family. Having more than one animal in our homes can be awesome and so much fun. But sometimes are pets have a different idea about these things than we do.

Do rabbits get along with other house pets? Rabbits can be tricky animals to have with other house pets. It is possible for rabbits to get along with cats, dogs, and other pets, but you have to be very careful and patient. Introduce the animals slowly to make sure no one gets injured and everyone can be a happy part of the family.

This is a very important choice that you are making. Our pets all have their own personalities and desires. We need to take things very slowly to make sure our furry friends are comfortable with each other. You have to be very careful with how you introduce two pets to each other and be willing to have a back-up plan if things don’t go as you wish.

Rabbits and Cats

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. But luckily, for most house cats, rabbits are much bigger than the animals they would normally hunt. So a typical house cat is not likely to immediately chase after a rabbit. 

Do rabbits get along with cats?

In theory, rabbits and house cats can get along. Whether or not they actually do, depends on the disposition and personality of your specific pets. 

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.

But there are many house cats who are very calm. They might be curious about a new rabbit coming into the home, and over time will be acclimated to the new animal. Rabbits also will likely need a transition period where they will be timid around a cat. But eventually the two will learn to live with each other, and they might even become friends.

It is more likely a cat and rabbit will get along if you get them both as young animals. Animals that grow up together are more likely to feel a bond with each other. They won’t see the other animal as a threat or an animal to hunt because they’ve been together all their lives.

It is also important to consider the size of your rabbit. Bunnies typically weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to about 12 pounds. A two pound rabbit might be small enough that your cat will try to chase after it, but a large 12 pound rabbit might even be bigger than your cat. It is much safer to have a large rabbit and cat as pets. The size difference will disrupt their predator-and-prey relationship.

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 rabbits and cats

You want to be very careful when you introduce a rabbit and a cat. DO NOT leave them unsupervised.

Introduce the rabbit and cat with a cage between them

When you first introduce the two pets, make sure you have some sort of barrier between them (such as a fence or cage). Give the rabbit a place to hide, such as a box or alcove, and make sure your cat has a place they can run if they get spooked by the rabbit. If either animal shows signs of fear or stress, then you should end the interaction and try again tomorrow. (a fearful rabbit will run and hide, or start thumping with their back legs)

Supervise your rabbit and cat as they interact

After a few days (or possibly weeks) of giving them these short interactions, your pets might start to feel comfortable and curious around each other. They shouldn’t be acting scared or stressed when they see each other, and they aren’t trying to attack each other through the bars.

At this point you can try giving them the chance to interact without a barrier or cage separating them. Supervise their interaction very closely and be ready to break them up at the smallest hint of danger. 

Even if your pets seem to be okay with each other right away, it’s best to continue to only allow them to interact when you can supervise them for at least a couple of months. After a few months your pets will likely start to get used to each other. You should still consider keeping them apart when you are not home or when you are asleep, but by now your pets are both part of the family.

Will a cat attack a rabbit?

Cats are natural predators, so some cats will attack rabbits, but not all. This depends on the disposition of your cat, and also the size of your rabbit. 

Some cats are more territorial and more natural hunters than others. They will be more likely to chase after squirrels or other small animals outside. Or they might be the kind of cat who stalks birds from the window and tries to catch them. These cats probably are not the best match, since they may try to attack your pet rabbit also.

There is also size to consider. Cats are generally not going to try to hunt animals that are as big as they are, and some rabbits are as big (or bigger) than cats. Pairing a large rabbit with a cat can greatly increase the chance of success at including both pets as part of the family.

Will a rabbit attack a cat?

Surprisingly, it is also possible that the rabbit will be aggressive and attack the cat. Rabbits are very territorial animals. If they feel the cat is encroaching on their home territory, they might attack. 

Rabbits can also lash out and scratch or bite if they are afraid. If the rabbit feels cornered by the cat, even if the cat is not showing any aggressive behavior, the rabbit might attack. Usually a rabbit will try to run away before they attack though, so always supervise and make sure your rabbit has a way out of  any interaction.

How to keep rabbits and cats separately if they don’t get along

Unfortunately, it is possible that your cat and rabbit will not get along with each other. If your efforts at bonding the two animals aren’t going well, then at some point you have to make arrangements for your two pets to permanently live separately.

The easiest way to handle this is to keep your rabbit in one room of the house that your cat is not allowed into. 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.

Rabbits and dogs

Rabbits and dogs are a lot trickier to bring into a family together than rabbits and cats. Dogs often have very strong instincts to chase after small prey animals. Many have even been bred to specifically go after rabbits. If you want to try to make a dog and a rabbit part of the same family, you’ll have to be very careful and considerate of your animals’ personalities.

Do rabbits get along with dogs?

Most of the time rabbits and dogs do not get along together, but it’s not impossible. A calm dog may still be able to get along with a rabbit, particularly if the dog has experience living with other small animals, like cats.

Sometimes it’s better to introduce a puppy to a rabbit. That way they will grow up knowing the rabbit is part of the family. But you need to be very careful with this method. A rambunctious puppy could really hurt a rabbit. They also often grow up with access to some fuzzy chew toys, and you don’t want them to mistake the rabbit for a toy.

You also need to consider how your rabbit will feel about the dog. Rabbits are prey animals and can become very fearful around dogs. In worst case scenarios, the rabbit could have a heart attack or go into shock from being around a barking dog. So do not allow a dog to get close to a rabbit when they are first being introduced.

If you really want a chance at having a rabbit and dog home, you should try to pair a confident rabbit with a well behaved, calm dog. And even then it may not work. You can’t force your animals to get along with each other, so be prepared with a back-up strategy to keep your two pets in your home separately.

dog and rabbit
When you introduce a dog and a rabbit, keep the dog on a leash and make sure they will obey commands.

How to introduce rabbits and dogs

There is a chance that your dog will try to chase after or attack your rabbit when they are introduced, so you want to be very careful. The dog should be trained to sit and stay, and be kept on a leash. Always supervise any interaction between your pets.

Introduce the rabbit and dog from a distance and with a cage between them

First make sure there is a barrier between your rabbit and dog. This can be your rabbit’s cage or a fence. Keep you dog on the leash and bring the dog into the same room as the rabbit, but do not let the dog approach the cage or barrier.

Watch and wait to see how your animals react. Does your dog lunge for the rabbit? Does the rabbit scramble away and hide? If this happens, quickly lead your dog back out of the room to reduce the amount of stress the two animals are experiencing.

Try this again for the next few days and see if the animals start to have calmer reactions to each other. If they do, it’s time to allow the dog to get closer to the rabbit’s enclosure. Keep the dog on the leash, and make sure your rabbit is not trembling from fear as your dog approaches.

Supervise your rabbit and dog as they interact

If, and only if, your rabbit and dog are starting to feel comfortable and non-aggressive with each other through the bars of the enclosure, you can attempt an in-person interaction. Keep the dog on the leash at all times and make sure he will sit and stay on command. Make sure your rabbit has a place to run and hide so they never feel cornered. 

Allow your rabbit to approach the dog first and watch for signs of aggression in both animals. If there is even a hint of stress for either animal, end the interaction and try again another time. 

If the pets are behaving well, allow them to curiously interact with each other. Always supervise them and always be ready to end the interaction if you need to. Over the next few weeks give them a number of these short interactions to allow them to get used to each other.

If all goes well, you can eventually allow your dog and rabbit to interact off-leash. But it is best that you never let these two pets interact without supervision. It would be very easy for a dog to accidentally hurt a rabbit, so even if they do successfully become friends, you want to be very careful.

Will a dog attack a rabbit?

It is possible that your pet dog will try to attack your rabbit. Even a dog that is normally very calm can have the instinct to chase after small prey animals. It’s possible they will try to harm your rabbit.

Dogs and puppies are also more rambunctious than rabbits are. The dog may think he’s just playing with the rabbit, but instead ends up seriously injuring your bunny. So if you want to have dogs and rabbits in the same household, you have to be very careful to make sure all your animals are safe and happy.

Will a rabbit attack a dog?

It’s possible that a rabbit will try to attack a dog instead, especially if the rabbit was in the home first. Rabbits are very territorial animals, so if they feel the dog is encroaching on their home territory, they might attack. 

Rabbits can also lash out and scratch or bite if they are afraid. If the rabbit feels cornered by the dog, even if the dog is just being curious, the rabbit might attack. Usually a rabbit will try to run away before they attack though, so always supervise and make sure your rabbit has a way out of any interaction.

How to keep rabbits and dog separately if they don’t get along

If your animals can’t seem to get along with each other, you will need to keep them housed separately. The easiest way to do this is by keeping the rabbit in a room in your house that the dog is not allowed into.

Rabbits and other small animals

It used to be more commonplace for rabbits to be kept together with other small animals, such as pet rats or guinea pigs. These animals could be companions to each other since they are all small prey animals. But this has largely fallen out of practice, and in general is not advised.

The procedure for spaying and neutering rabbits is much safer now than it used to be, so it’s easier to give them a companion of their own species, which is better solution.

There is also still the problem of territorial behavior. Rabbits would sometimes attack the other animals they live with and badly injure them. Rabbit bites can be dangerous to a cat or dog, but they are even more so to another small animal.

Why rabbits and other small animals should not be kept as companions:

  • They have different diets.
  • Rabbits may intentionally or unintentionally injure the other small animals.
  • Diseases can easily pass from rabbits to other small animals.
  • The body language of all the different species are very different and it will be difficult for the animals to communicate with each other.

Can rabbits and other pets pass illnesses between each other?

Most diseases that rabbits can get are species specific and have little chance of spreading to cats or dogs. Rabbits can pass on bacteria to guinea pigs that causes a serious respiratory infection. And kennel cough in dogs can sometimes cause serious illness in rabbits.

The real worries are the parasites that pets can pass between each other. Fleas, ticks, ringworm, and tapeworm, can all infect many different species. So be vigilant to make sure all of your pets are free of parasites.

Related questions

Are bunnies good house pets?

Rabbits are great house pets. The are social animals and enjoy hanging out with humans to play and be pet. But rabbits can also be troublesome. They like to chew on wires or dig into the rug. So before letting your rabbit roam free, you should bunny-proof your home.

Should I get another bunny friend for my rabbit?

It is an excellent idea to get a companion for your rabbit. Bunnies are social creatures and enjoy the company of their own kind. But you have to be careful when introducing two rabbits. They can be very territorial, so if they are not introduced correctly they may start attacking each other.

Sources:

  1. Becker, Mikkel. “Can a Rabbit Live With a Dog or a Cat?” VetStreet, Jul. 9, 2013, www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/can-a-rabbit-live-with-a-dog-or-a-cat.
  2. Campbell, Joanna. “What Animals Get Along with Rabbits?” Petfinder, www.petfinder.com/pet-care/rabbit-care/rabbit-companion-animals
  3. Ramnaraine, Amy. “Rabbits and Cats.” House Rabbit Society, Dec. 28, 2017, rabbit.org/rabbits-and-cats.
  4. Ramnaraine, Amy. “Rabbits and Dogs.” House Rabbit Society, Dec. 28, 2017, rabbit.org/rabbits-and-dogs.

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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