Introducing one cat to another cat can be challenging enough. The prospect of introducing your feline friend to a bunny may seem out of the realm of possibility. Many people think this way because cats are predators and bunnies are prey. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
With proper planning and consistent action, you can create a lasting friendship between your cat and a new bunny. Keep reading to get a step-by-step guide for how to introduce a cat to a bunny.
Part One: Before The Introduction
1) Make Sure Your Rabbit is Relaxed
When introducing your cat and rabbit, you first have to make sure that your bunny is in a relaxed state of mind. Cats are predators and bunnies are prey. Therefore, when your rabbit sees your cat, it’s going to experience some anxiety.
Stress in rabbits has been proven to cause gut stasis, which can be life-threatening. That’s why it’s crucial that you start this process by taking steps to keep your bunny calm. You can do that in a few different ways. Some proven methods for reducing stress in bunnies is rubbing the top of their heads near the bottom of their areas, and giving them something like a tiny piece of wood to chew on.
You know what your bunny likes best. Think about what makes them happiest, and then make sure they have access to those things before giving them their first introduction to your cat. Doing this will set that interaction up for success.
2) Begin with “Scent Handshakes”
This is a crucial step to complete before physically introducing your bunny and cat to one another. A scent handshake is exactly what it sounds like. It involves transferring your bunny’s scent to your cat and vice versa. The goal of this is to get both animals familiar and comfortable with the other’s scent.
The best way to accomplish this is with a simple piece of cloth. You can pet one of the animals with it and then stroke the other one with the same cloth. Do this multiple times before introducing your bunny and rabbit to one another for the best results.
3) Make Sure Your Rabbit Has A Secure Cage
This is a crucial aspect of developing a strong relationship between your bunny and your cat. Rabbits enjoy having access to a safe space that’s all their own. You may want to let your rabbit roam free, but that’s unrealistic — especially at the beginning.
Your bunny will be happier and will feel safer with a nice cage. You should keep it inside the cage more often than not until it gets used to its new home and your cat. The cage should be big enough for your bunny to hop around in and should provide them with access to food, water, and bedding materials like hay or a soft towel.
Part Two: The Introduction
4) Start with Caged Interactions
Some pet owners make the mistake of introducing their cat and bunny to one another out in the open right away. You should absolutely avoid doing this, as it could irrevocably damage the animals’ relationship.
Instead, the process of introducing your cat and bunny begins with letting them interact through a cage each day. Your rabbit should be the one caged initially. Being in its safe space will help the bunny to feel more comfortable with its interactions.
For the best results, you should give your cat and rabbit a chance to see one another for about an hour each day. You can do this by bringing the bunny’s cage into a common room or by letting the cat into wherever you’ve been keeping your rabbit. As your cat investigates, you should be in the room with them the whole time.
The purpose of this step is to give both animals the opportunity to get used to the others’ movements and behaviors. Successfully managing this is the first step towards getting your cat and bunny comfortable with each other in open space. During this part of the process, you should make sure your bunny has a safe hiding spot in its cage so it can retreat if it feels uncomfortable with the interaction.
5) Consider Your Animals’ Personality
Cats and rabbits aren’t natural friends. In fact, they would be enemies in nature. The success of your animals’ elationship will ultimately come down to their personalities. If your cat is extremely aggressive, it may have a hard time thinking of the rabbit as anything other than prey. Similarly, if your bunny is especially timid, it may have a hard time getting past thinking of your cat as a predator.
After introducing the animals to one another through cages, you’ll have a better understanding of how they think of one another. If your rabbit constantly hides or your cat constantly exhibits hunting-like behavior, then you may want to stop the process here. Not all bunnies and cats will be able to be friendly with one another. It’s important to recognize whether that’s happening between your animals.
6) Let The Rabbit Out of Its Cage
If the caged interactions go well, the next step is to let your rabbit out of its cage in the cat’s presence. You should put your cat in its carrier the first few times this happens, so they can see what it’s like to have the rabbit exploring out in the open.
For the best results, we recommend doing this at a time of the day when both of your animals are calm and relaxed. A good opportunity is right after your cat has been fed, so it won’t feel as naturally aggressive towards the bunny.
7) Introduce Your Bunny and Cat in an Open Space
Finally, we’ve reached the point of this process where both animals can be out in the open with one another. Once again, it’s important to stress that you shouldn’t do this until you’re sure that both animals are comfortable with one another.
However, if their caged interactions have gone well, there’s no problem with letting your cat and bunny interact with one another out in the open. You should be present for the duration of this step and watch closely to see if anything flares up.
Part Three: Continuing The Relationship
8) Let the Rabbit Be Assertive
As your cat and rabbit continue interacting with one another out in the open, it’s important to allow your bunny to be assertive. When it does this, your cat will begin seeing it as more than prey. It may even start to think of your rabbit as a friend.
9) Follow Your Pets’ Lead
The relationship between your cat and bunny won’t always be a smooth one. That’s natural and not something that pet owners should try to avoid entirely. This fact means that you’re going to have to monitor the relationship between your bunny and cat consistently. You may need to intervene periodically to keep things on good terms.
For example, if you notice your bunny getting stressed or your cat becoming aggressive, you may need to reinstitute a period of separation. Don’t do this through punishment, as the animals will start to associate disapproval with one another. Instead, you should calmly separate the cat and bunny from one another as needed through either caging your rabbit or putting it in a different room.
10) Keep the Animals’ Supplies Separate
It’s important to maintain a strict separation between your cat and bunny’s food, housing, and toiletries. This is true even after they’ve become friends. Cats and rabbits have different needs. Keeping the spaces where they eat and use the toilet separate will allow both of your animals to satisfy those needs without issue.
If you bring the animals’ food or bathroom spaces together, one or the other may start to feel like they can’t use those supplies. This could strain the relationship between your animals or lead to health issues if they feel incapable of visiting their food bowl or bathroom space. That’s why it’s important to maintain this separation throughout the duration of the time you have both a bunny and a cat in your home.
Cats and Rabbits Can Become Unlikely Friends
It would be virtually impossible for a cat and rabbit to become friends with one another in their natural environments. There’s simply no way of getting around the fact that cats are hunters are rabbits are prey. That being said, your home is not nature. If you set up the right environment and follow the steps listed above, your cat and bunny can become unlikely friends.
Regardless of how comfortable your cat and bunny become with one another, it’s important to continue monitoring their relationship. The natural differences between the two animals can cause flare-ups and tensions quickly. For the best results, you should probably only allow your rabbit to roam freely when you’re at home and available to respond to these situations.
Through preparation, a careful introduction process, and continual monitoring, you can create a lasting friendship between your cat and bunny. We wish you all the best as you work towards that.