Rabbits & Cats: Advice from the House Rabbit Society

This article was written by the HRS Licensed Educator who inspired me to create this blog in the first place, Amy Ramnaraine. It first appeared on rabbit.org, and is reprinted here with her permission. Enjoy!


Indoor house cats typically will peacefully coexist with pet rabbits if given proper introductions and supervision. Some even develop close friendships.

Exercise caution during introductions. If kitty is aggressive or rabbit is scared, stop the interaction. A majority of rabbit and cat introductions don’t run into any major issues.

Start with bunny in a large cage, one with bars too small for the cat to reach in. Bunny should have room to run around and stand up – movements kitty needs to become accustomed to. Provide a cardboard hidey box inside the cage so bunny can feel safe inside. When both are comfortable with each other’s movements and smells (this can take days, weeks or months), move forward with your introductions. Hold kitty on your lap and let bunny investigate at his own pace. Continue short sessions until everyone is feeling comfortable and peaceful together. If bunny is new in your home, don’t begin introductions until she is feeling confident and comfortable in her new environment.

Don’t be surprised if bunny is the dominant personality in the relationship. Rabbits can be bossy and territorial, sometimes causing a wary, defensive reaction from kitty. Ideally, kitty will leave if the bunny is being too bossy but watch out for defensive swipes — this is the most common way for a rabbit to be injured by a cat companion. Provide a safe place of retreat for each animal. A cat tree for kitty and a wooden hidey box for bunny work great.

Cat claws and mouths carry harmful bacteria. Even a playful swat or love bite to your rabbit can cause a serious abscess (infection). Trim claws monthly. Consider using claw covers.

Don’t use clumping cat litter. Clumping cat litter is dangerous to rabbits, as they are likely to ingest it and cause a deadly intestinal blockage.

Keeping a high-prey-drive cat or dog separated from a pet rabbit is critical but difficult and dangerous. A split-second accident can be fatal for the rabbit. If you think a cat or dog is not trustworthy with a small animal trust your gut. Trying to keep them forever separated in the same home is incredibly high risk, and this approach has failed many times.

By Amy Ramnaraine, House Rabbit Society Licensed Educator, MN

12 comments:

  1. Very helpful read, thank you. I am a little worried about what you are saying with rabbits being territoral. We have two ragdolls that we would like to introduce to a little bunny soon (our daughter finally has convinced us). Our cats are both very dominant and, allthough they like each other, they sometimes have a little fight...I read this blog post https://thecasualcatblog.weebly.com/blog/how-to-introduce-an-animal-to-a-cat-the-truth that says you need to feed the cats before introducing them to another animal. This, seemingly, is good for putting the cat into a good mood. It sounds like gibberish to us but what do you think about it? Is it a legitimate approach/strategy to introducing all of them?

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  2. I can't see how feeding them before playdates would hurt. And food treats for good behavior could make a difference for some pets. If you give it a try, let us know if it helps!

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  3. Reading this was so helpful.My question I have is it the same way to interact in meeting each other when my kitten is 7weeks old and my bunny I will have in one week will be 6weeks old.My kitten is a runt and very small.So do I still go about the same way as older ones?

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    1. the younger the easier. kitty may occasionally hop. very cute.

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  4. Introducing juvenile pets is generally easier than adults, in my experience and from what I've read. Fewer hormones involved, less territorialness, not so much hunting instinct kicking in. Good luck!

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  5. I have two female cats who are both about 14 years old. There was a dog who came to our house once, and it stayed outside while our cats were inside. The cats hissed at the dog and seemed to be afraid of it. Do you think that they would have the same reaction to a rabbit?

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  6. Every animal is different. Their reaction to a bunny could be very different than to a dog.

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  7. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!. How Old is My Cat In Cat Years

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  8. We breed rabbits and I have decided to keep one of the new female bunnys. She is about 2 months old right now and I have decided to Introduc out 1 year old female house cat to the bunny. On the first in person interaction outside of the cage the cat began to clean the bunny as if it was her own kitten. It was so cute. Thing to not the cat is fixed and has never had kittens and has never been outside since we got her. She was raised by us from a kitten so she has never had the need to even try to hut unless you count catching bugs that get in to the house.

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  9. Hey Unknown, email me at meetsbunny AT gmail.com if you'd like to be a guest poster!

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  10. I have a 1 year old Bombay cat and want a bunny. Cat is inside and on harness when outside. Is a bunny a good pet choice

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  11. Yes! Bunnies and cats can get along just fine, but it depends on you taking the time to introduce them. You can see lots of examples of how to do that on this site.

    Bunnies shouldn't be outside, though, and do best with lots of free time to run around inside the house. Think about providing your bunny with a spacious pen instead of a too-small cage, and you'll be on the right track!

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