You may have a domestic cat living in your home, but you should know that even pet cats are highly skilled predators. They have keen hunting instincts, and this is an instinct that they can use. Even the most docile of indoor cats has hunting instincts. When your cat sees prey, its instincts kick in. It doesn’t matter if your cat is well-fed or lives indoors. The instinct to hunt and kill is there when it sees prey.
Rabbits are prey for a lot of different animals. They have very little ability to protect themselves besides running and hiding. If you have a pet rabbit, you can see characteristics that show that they are always on alert for predators. People often ask, “Do cats and rabbits get along?” Both are popular pets, and some people want to have both. Read on to learn more about how these animals interact with each other.
What Instincts Do Cats Have?
Although cats have been domesticated since ancient times, they have maintained their instincts. If you have a cat, you might notice that it enjoys stalking and pouncing on toys. Your cat might lay down and slink along the wall. You might find this behavior endearing, but it is all part of your cat’s predatory instincts.
In fact, many of your cat’s quirky behaviors are related to its instincts. Your cat will sleep most of the day and have a burst of energy as night falls. This is related to the fact that cats hunt at dusk. Some cats like to go outdoors at night, which is part of the same instinct. Cats have excellent eyesight, so they have no trouble seeing at night.
You might also notice your cat rubbing against your furniture or your legs. This is also an instinct, and it is the cat putting its scent on whatever it is rubbing against. Cats are territorial, and in the wild, they do this to warn other cats to stay away.
Cats are also very independent by nature, and it’s nothing personal. You might wonder why your cat doesn’t want to cuddle or let you hug it, and this is why. Cats are very fond of maintaining their independence, and this is a natural instinct.
Perhaps the instinct that leads people to ask, “Do cats attack rabbits” is the hunting instinct. Cats are a predatory species, and these instincts can be seen when they are very young kittens. Cats hunt on their own, and they are very stealthy. They have a great deal of patience, and they can move in on their prey quickly. By nature, cats hunt prey that they can handle on their own, such as small mammals and birds.
The Cats’ Hunting Instincts
The cat’s hunting instinct is not motivated by hunger, but, rather, it is motivated when the cat sees prey. If the cat is hungry, it is likely to kill and eat its prey. However, if it isn’t hungry, it will still hunt. This prey is what you have when your cat brings home a “gift” and leaves it on your doorstep.
If your cat is outdoors with wild rabbits or indoors with a domestic rabbit, it will likely have these hunting instincts triggered. It is important to understand that a domestic cat will spend around three hours a day engaging in hunting behavior, and given the opportunity, it will likely attack a rabbit.
What Instincts Do Rabbits Have?
Rabbits are another domesticated pet, and they also maintain a lot of their natural instincts. You can see it when you interact with a pet rabbit or if you observe it in its cage. Rabbits are prey to many different predators, including cats.
If your rabbit sees a predator, including your pet cat, it will either freeze or flee. Most predators are drawn to the movement of prey, and the freeze response can save their lives. The flight response in a rabbit is activated when a predator spots them. The rabbit has a chance of survival if it knows the layout of the land and can get to a place where it is safe from the predator.
Rabbits also have a hiding instinct, and they will flee until they find a safe spot. If the rabbit can get to its burrow, it can stay inside until the threat of the predator passes. The final instinct is the fight instinct, which kicks in when all else fails. If the predator reaches the rabbit, it will kick using its hind legs, either one at a time or both together.
Are Cats a Threat to Rabbits?
The short answer is yes, cats are a threat to rabbits. If you have a pet rabbit, and there are cats around, you need to know that your rabbit is in possible danger. If your rabbit lives outside, it is easy prey to the local cats. It is important to make sure that your rabbit hutch is safe and prevents predators from getting in. You need to keep in mind that cats can climb and get into enclosures, and you need to make sure that your rabbit is completely protected.
If you have a pet cat that is living indoors with your rabbit, you need to make sure that your cat cannot get to your rabbit in its cage. Even if they live together, you never know when your cat’s predatory instincts can kick in, so you need to make sure that your rabbit is safe.
Can Cats and Rabbits Get Along?
You might wonder how some people have rabbits and cats and never seem to have a problem. People think that perhaps some cats don’t have these predatory instincts and that rabbits aren’t afraid of pet cats. This is not completely true.
If a cat and a rabbit are introduced in the home when they are young, it is less likely that they will be adversaries. However, the cat’s instincts can kick in at any time. Even if these two furry pets seem to be the best of friends, you need to make sure that you do everything possible to minimize the hunting instincts from coming out when they are together.
It is also important to note that if you have a cat that gets along with your pet rabbit, this does not mean that the cat won’t hunt wild rabbits outdoors. By the same token, if your rabbit is not afraid of your pet cat, it still might be afraid of other cats that it doesn’t know.
Another interesting aspect of this relationship between a pet rabbit and a pet cat is that the roles often appear to be reversed. This is due to their different natures. While cats are loners by nature, rabbits are social and live in groups. The cat will be perfectly content to do everything by itself, but the rabbit will want to chase the cat around and figure out where they fall in the pecking order.
Do Cats Eat Rabbits?
Another question that people ask is, “Do cats eat rabbits?” Cats can eat rabbits. They don’t always eat them after they kill them, but they can. It is important to understand that cats should not eat rabbits because they are not good for them. Cats can contract an illness called Tularemia when they eat rabbits. Another name for this disease is “Rabbit fever.” It is an infectious disease, and it can harm rabbits.
Cats that are well fed are less likely to eat the rabbits after they kill them. However, they may take a bite and return them to their owners. Female cats often bring their prey to their kittens so that they can take part in the hunt. Some people think they bring the prey to their owners for the same reason.
Your cat is more likely to kill for sport rather than for a meal if it is well fed, but it will still hunt rabbits and kill them.
If you want more information on the subject, we have another full article on the subject HERE.
Will Rabbits Die From One Cat Bite?
People often use the phrase, “scared to death,” but they don’t realize that it is grounded in reality. If a cat catches a rabbit, the rabbit can die before the cat takes a bite. Rabbits can freeze and suddenly their heart will stop when they experience extreme fear. Seeing a cat up close and knowing that the attack is imminent can cause a rabbit to die of fright.
If the rabbit doesn’t die of fright and is bitten by the cat, it needs immediate medical attention and it can possibly survive. It is important to know that regular small animal vets will not normally see rabbits. You will need a vet who sees rabbits, and you will need to get there quickly.
What to Do If Your Cat Is Hunting a Rabbit
If you see your cat hunting a rabbit, you should try to distract your cat. You may be able to get your cat’s attention and convince it to leave the rabbit alone. This distraction could be enough to give the rabbit a chance to escape. If you are able to get your cat away from the rabbit and it is injured, you should try to take it to the vet.
If your cat tries to hunt rabbits regularly, you should consider keeping it indoors. Not only is it bad for the wildlife if your cat is hunting it, but it is dangerous for your cat as well. Cats compete with other predators, including wild animals such as racoons, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats. These animals rely on prey for a food source, and they can be dangerous for your cat.
Additionally, cats can get sick from eating a rabbit that carries a disease. If your cat has killed a rabbit, you should take it to a vet for a check up to make sure it is okay. The thing to remember is that if your cat hunts, you should transition it to the indoors. You can get different toys for your cat that allow it to use its hunting instincts.
What to Do If You Have a Cat and a Rabbit That Don’t Get Along
If you have a cat and a rabbit, you need to make sure that the rabbit is safe. If you notice that your rabbit is afraid of the cat and the cat stalks the rabbit, it is best to keep them separate. You should actually keep them separated where the cat is not able to frighten your rabbit. You can introduce them to each other over time, and eventually they might become friends. However, this is a lengthy process.
The first thing you need to do is keep your rabbit safe and secure in a room by itself. This will help to make sure that your rabbit feels safe. This is especially important because rabbits can die of fright or stress. Ideally, you should keep your rabbit in a room that your cat is unable to access.
The next step is to transfer the scent of your rabbit to the cat’s area and the scent of the cat to the rabbit’s area. You can do this by rubbing a blanket on each animal’s fur and transferring it to the other room.
Next, you can bring your cat into the rabbit’s room for short periods of time. Make sure that your rabbit doesn’t get stressed out. Once you know that the animals are both comfortable, you can let your rabbit out of the hutch to socialize. Make sure that your cat doesn’t frighten the rabbit, and let them interact. Slowly extend these playdates until you are confident that your cat and your rabbit are comfortable with each other.
Happy Cat & Rabbit Matchmaking 🙂
Although people love to have cats and rabbits as pets, it is important to understand that this is not a great match. Cats are predators and have hunting instincts, whereas rabbits are prey and have freeze or flee instincts. You may already have a cat and a rabbit, in which case you need to make sure that the rabbit is safe. It is important to be aware that cats will hunt and kill rabbits, even if your cat is well fed and lives indoors.