Although they are enemies in the wild, domestic rabbits and cats can be friends in the home. When introduced to each other in the right conditions, these animals can become amicable roommates. However, proper precaution should always be taken to keep both pets safe and happy.
Time of Introduction
If you would like to keep both a pet cat and rabbit, the best time to have them meet is when they are both babies. That way, they can grow up together and will never know a world that doesn't include each other. This is a common way to get animals of different species to get along.
The combination of a cat and rabbit works best when the cat is calm and submissive and the rabbit is assertive, but not aggressive. An aggressive cat will most likely attack the rabbit, while a submissive rabbit will live its life in fear of the cat. It will take much longer for the two to adjust to one another and introductions must be done with great care.
Size of Animals
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Cats are small-game predators and tend to avoid attacking animals that are the same size as themselves or bigger. If you would like to add a rabbit to your family and you already own an adult cat, consider choosing a large breed of rabbit. Rabbit breeds such as the Flemish giant and the French lop will grow big enough to easily outweigh the standard house cat.
The Best Way to Introduce
If you are introducing a cat and a rabbit to each other, always do so with caution. Animals can be unpredictable when presented with a "fight or flight" situation, so never leave the animals unattended when they are still adjusting to one another. Begin with brief meetings with some form of separation between them, for instance leaving the rabbit in his cage. Remove one of the animals from the meeting if he seems overly scared or is about to lash out. Slowly increase the animals' time together until they reach the point they are no longer disturbed by one another's presence.
Social vs. Solitary
One of the key differences between cats and rabbits is that cats are by nature solitary animals and rabbits are social creatures. Because of this, when the rabbit becomes comfortable in his home environment, he will often do more to protect himself and his position in the home's social heirarchy, which can mean challenging the cat if she tries to stalk or attack. The cat will see that the rabbit is "fighting," not "fleeing," so will usually back down from the challenge, considering it too much effort to pursue.
Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.