Cats are skillful and avid hunters, mainly outdoor animals such as mice. They are prolific predators, and their need to hunt rives them to readily hunt and kill small animals like rats and even rabbits.
Cats are known for hunting birds and small rodents, but according to studies, felines eat the most available species at a specific time of the year. Cats love to hunt and kill, and their hunting prowess enables them to kill mice and rabbits alike.
Cats can hunt and kill rabbits, but it’s variant on the situation, the environment they are in, and the type and breed of the rabbit.
Cats are natural predators, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are a danger to your rabbits. Some will attack your rabbits, depending on the rabbit’s size and the cat’s disposition: and others that will not.
It is not unusual to experience cat and rabbit activity, but this is not always instinctively friendly, so you need to ensure the two are comfortable and safe with each other.
Although there are concerns about rabbits getting afraid of kittens, remember that rabbits are sometimes very confrontational and aggressive, especially when their safety feels threatened.
Are Cats a Danger to Rabbits?
Cats have been found to pose a danger to rabbits, and some more than others. Rabbits and cats are not natural housemates, with the former being prey and the latter instinctive predators.
This doesn’t mean that cats and rabbits can’t be placed together, as long as you understand how the two species get along and interact. Cats have a survival instinct that commonly attacks the weaker animals to hunt and kill or for fun.
However, rabbits and cats can get along as long as they have controlled interactions in a controlled environment, which takes effort.
If your cat exhibits any predatory behavior, it is dangerous to introduce a rabbit to it, as it may pass as prey species.
When cats and rabbits are put together, they use the space to play and run, triggering the cat’s prey drive. As such, it’s imperative to use visual barriers to create a sense of relaxation and safety for both animals.
Why Do Cats Kill Rabbits?
Eating rabbits are considered normal predatory behavior for cats, but it is an unhealthy habit that leads to contracting Tularemia, also called rabbit fever.
The reasons for cats to kill rabbits are dependent on the cat itself and the general availability of rabbits in the area. The cat’s situation dictates its reason for killing a rabbit; for instance, a well-fed cat kills due to the driving force to hunt.
Other cats might do it for the thrill to play as they hunt, while other cats like feral cats do it for survival.
When cats and rabbits come together, the instinct to hunt is triggered, but the cat reacts in most cases when it’s not satiated enough.
However, not all cats will instinctively want to kill your rabbits; some will leave the dead rabbit undevoured.
Cats that have been socialized together and share their home with pet rabbits have a better relationship, so you have less to worry about a cat indoors.
Hunting rabbits for cats is not just about survival; the thrill of catching prey is an exciting reward after a successful hunt.
Do Rabbits Get Along with Cats?
Cats and rabbits are on two opposite sides of the food chain, but they can be trained to get along with time and patience.
The two need to trust each other, so they are not just predators and prey. At the same time, rabbits can be very territorial and bossy, so that a cat might have a defensive and wary reaction.
Cats’ claws have harmful bacteria for rabbits. Cats and rabbits represent a predator-prey relationship, but that doesn’t mean they can’t peacefully co-exist.
Some of the factors affecting how these two animals may get along are the age of introduction, the breed and size of the rabbit, and the temperament of both animals.
The two can live amicably when introduced to each other in the right conditions and if caution is taken to keep them both happy and safe.
Both domesticated cats and rabbits are friendly animals, making excellent pets and companions to their possessors.
Cats and rabbits can live together and play along, but this friendship doesn’t mean the rabbit is entirely safe from predation. Some cats, such as Bengal cats, have a wild ancestry, so they might not be the best companions for domesticated rabbits.
These cats have a very high prey drive, which makes them dangerous around small creatures like rabbits. Domestic cats also pose a danger to rabbits, as their natural feline urges need to be satisfied by hunting and killing small animals.
Cats and rabbits are well suited for each other given they eat different foods, use different litter boxes, are sociable, and have complimentary language.
House cats and rabbits can be an excellent match, and if you want to create a robust interspecies bind between the two animals, introduce them both at a young age. When they grow apart, there will be rivalry formed, and the older they get, the less likely they are to accept each other’s differences, considering how territorial they both are.
You should, however, never leave cats and rabbits unsupervised, even if they get along, because the instinct governing animals may cause the cat to turn on the rabbit instantly.
For a fact, cats are known to be dangerous to rabbits, and as they are predators wired to prey on rabbits, their hunting instinct makes it hard to leave the two unsupervised.
Cats can give cat bites to rabbits, and it’s impossible to assure your rabbit’s safety during playtime. Whether the two animals get along is dependent on several factors, including the personality and disposition of the specific animals.
Why Do Cats Eat the Heads of Rabbits?
Cats have different hunting and killing habits when it comes to rabbits.
While some will not hesitate to taste the meat, some cats prefer to eat the head only and leave the body, while others drag the corpse to show off to their owners.
Unlike ordinary cat prey, rabbits are relatively bigger, making it impossible for cats to eat the whole body.
The head of a rabbit is a treat for cats, while the rest of the body can be waste. Cats tend to eat just the head and discard the rest of the rabbit for this reason, and also because the head is the best part.
It is also challenging for a cat to resist devouring a bunny’s head which looks very desirable to chew, even when it isn’t hungry.
Cats have a predatory instinct, so when they see the fluffy bodies of rabbits hopping around, they react immediately.
The bunny’s head represents the prey, and a simple cat bite is enough to satisfy the urge to prey for cats.
Can A Rabbit Defend Itself from A Cat?
When it comes to defense against cats, it doesn’t matter what size the rabbit is. When hunting and fighting, a rabbit has no chance against a cat, so the best defense is running and avoiding being caught.
Rabbits are prey species, but they can defend themselves from a cat with a kick if the kick produces a strong force to cause pain to the cat.
Wild rabbits are aggressive, especially when they feel predators encroaching on their home territories or if they are afraid. If the rabbit is infected with and disease or any bacteria, it could indirectly cause harm to the cat and kill it.
Cat Breeds That Get Along with Rabbits
Rabbits are very social prey animals, and they would likely relish the company of a new furry friend. However, it can be challenging to introduce a new animal, especially a cat, to play around with your rabbit.
Despite the predator-prey relationship between cats and rabbits, some cats breed along just fine with rabbits.
The best breed for your rabbit would be a well-socialized adult cat that isn’t feral. Such a cat will act more friendly and reasonably to the rabbit compared to kittens.
The size difference between the cat and the domestic or wild rabbits can be alarming, especially when you need to prevent any prey/predator reactions on the first meetings.
It is important to note that rabbits are territorial, so they might get aggressive to cats on the first meeting, bringing out the cat’s predatory instinct.
Some feral cats are always chasing after birds and squirrels outside, so it might not be suitable to introduce a rabbit to this family.
However, there are some very territorial prey species of rabbits whose aggression won’t permit room for any other pet in the family.
Bringing a new pet to the family should be handled calmly to give the pets a transition period and a chance to acclimate to each other.
Otherwise, you end up with a dead rabbit in your home. It is, however, more likely that a rabbit and a cat will get along when the two are introduced to each other at a young age, as they grow together and bond.
When baby rabbits and kittens grow up together, they see each other as friends to play with and not as a predator and prey.
Cats end up with less or no urge to hunt or kill their rabbit friends, and the pet rabbit baby bunnies feel safe around the cats.
Adopting a pet is a big responsibility, and with proper care, the lifespan of rabbits goes to 12 years, which means a long commitment.
Most cats live friendly and peacefully with rabbits, while some are just not okay with these prey animals as friends, which threatens the rabbit population.
As such, it’s essential to be realistic about the temperament of your cat to guarantee your rabbit’s safety, considering that baby rabbits don’t lie with the mother rabbit as cats and dogs do.