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We have a neutered male dwarf rabbit who's about 18 months old. He's been an only pet for almost his whole life. He has a big cage to hop around in, and for the most part we leave its door open, giving him freedom to hop around his room and eat the cardboard boxes we leave in there for him. He's allowed to venture out into the living room or bedroom as long as one of us is there to keep half an eye on him.

We're thinking about adding a cat to our household (bringing the tally up to two humans, one bun, and one kitty). We want to make sure any cat we adopt will coexist with our rabbit, or maybe even be friends. The rabbit is pretty chill with new people as long as they aren't too aggressive with him, so we're hoping the same would be true with a cat.

It will be hard to find a cat with experience with bunnies, so what else should we look for? Should we get a young cat or kitten, hoping we can train it not to antagonize the bunny? A kitten would be about the size of the bun (for the first few weeks), so that might help him not fear the cat. Or should we go for an older cat that's too lazy to care? The bunny wouldn't feel threatened by the cat's attention if it were totally apathetic toward him.

How should we go about finding a feline companion for the bunny?

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    I do not know how to find the right cat, but I would avoid any cat that has ever lived feral, outside, or has been a "mouser." – user9 Feb 10 '14 at 17:49
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    I have a really good answer for this, but it is going to take me a while to write it well (if I don't put good supporting references @chad gives me a bad time). It will not be hard to find the right cat. – James Jenkins Feb 10 '14 at 17:59
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    I'll wait for James' answer. Mine is anecdotal, we had 3 cats and 2 rabbits at one point with no issues beyond the male bunny doing, umm, interesting things to one of our female cats. I found the cats were really just unsure what to make of the rabbits. – John Cavan Feb 10 '14 at 18:01
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    Unfortunately, I lived in that situation, sort of (4 humans, two cats, one bun), but the bun came last, so I don't have a lot of practical advice. My cats just tended to think the bun was a weird cat, and tended to treat it as such. – Ash Feb 10 '14 at 18:18
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    @AshleyNunn Cats think most things are just weird cats. (Humans included.) – hairboat Aug 6 '14 at 3:29
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I am active in the local rabbit rescue and humane society. This answer is based on multiple conversations with many cross species pet parents. All the points made are from experiences shared by parents and supported by reliable references where available.

In my opinion and experience a rabbit & cat are probably the two easiest animals to join together in a single household. In any introduction of a new family member to the household early visits should be supervised, and the new member should not be left alone with existing member(s) until everyone is comfortable. Introducing two rabbits to each other is called bonding, it can be a significant undertaking.

The most appropriate cat is going to be a well socialized (not feral) adult cat, in short a cat that acts friendly to you can reasonably be expected to act friendly to the rabbit in your family. A kitten can be brought in but is more difficult, with the kitten being somewhat at risk. The size difference between the cat and rabbit are of minor concern. With the most important issue being to prevent the prey/predator responses particularly during the first visit. Rabbits are territorial and may be overly aggressive toward the cat during early visits so, do not let stereotypes cloud your judgement during introductions.

So what makes a rabbit and cat so well suited for each other?

  1. They eat different food
  2. They use different litter boxes
  3. They are about the same size
  4. They both like to have friends
  5. They have complementary body language

The first 4 make perfect sense, but what is this complementary body language thing?

Other than who gets the peoples' attention, cats and rabbits only have one thing to argue about: Dominance.

When two rabbits come together the one on the bottom is dominant; they are presenting themselves to be groomed. Failure to provide grooming on demand can be painful, this is part of why the rabbit will often be the most dominant pet in the house.

So when the cat and the rabbit approach each other, the rabbit will have its head lowered to assert its dominance (I AM ROYALTY YOU MUST GROOM ME). The cat will immediately notice that the bunny is approaching in the classic cat language, submissive head down posture, and the cat knows that the bunny has recognized the cat's natural dominance and is bowing before it. The image below captures abby hairboat's (OP) Kitten meeting her rabbit.

Abby's New Kitten meets the rabbit

In this one most important element, the battle for dominance, both the cat and the rabbit win.

So what should you look for, in finding a feline companion for the bunny?

The perfect candidate will likely be at your local shelter. They will probably be in a room with multiple cats (sometimes called a cat colony, where the most sociable cats live in a group). They will be an adult of any age. You and the cat will like each other.

The largest concern, is litter box sharing. A cats litter and litter box are not appropriate for a rabbit. Addressing that is the subject of the question If I have both a cat and a rabbit, can they (or should they) share a litter box?

  • @AbbyT.Miller, your welcome. Glad I could help. – James Jenkins Feb 11 '14 at 1:45
  • +1 - Other than the weird Inkblot/Dolly relationship, this is pretty much my observation. Inkblot and Dolly could really only be explained by a misguided attempt to produce cabbits. – John Cavan Feb 11 '14 at 3:26
  • James, do you think anything will change because Binx is a dwarf rabbit? Could his diminutive size make him seem more like prey than a full-size rabbit might? He's very small - three or four pounds, I would say. – hairboat Feb 11 '14 at 15:19
  • @AbbyT.Miller, size is not a big consideration, this link has more detail. Your bunny has already has the home field advantage, so you should be good. You can also check with your shelter they may have a meet and great policy that will allow you to bring your bunny in to meet a potential cat. – James Jenkins Feb 11 '14 at 18:11
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    I just realised I always misunderstood the rabbit I had as a kid... but the dominance-thing is awesome! – Layna May 4 '16 at 11:14

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