Rabbits vs. Cats: How Do They Compare as Pets?

Fluffy or hoppy? Which furry companion makes the better pet – cats or rabbits? For families trying to decide between adopting a curious kitten or a frisky bunny, it helps to understand their care differences and similarities. This in-depth guide digs into all the need-to-know details, from diet and housing to vet costs and health issues. Discover the pros and cons of welcoming either a cat or a rabbit into your home. Get tips for introducing new pets to a resident cat or bunny and learn how to help these very different species safely co-exist. Join us as we delve into the debate – Cats vs Rabbits: Who gets your vote as top pet?

Rabbit care compared to cat care

Caring for a rabbit requires some different considerations than caring for a cat. Here are some of the key differences in rabbit care versus cat care:

Housing – Rabbits require much more space than cats. The recommended enclosure size for a rabbit is at least 4 ft x 2 ft, with additional space to run and play. Cats only require enough room to access food, water, and litter plus some space to play.

Litter training – Rabbits can be litter trained like cats. However, while cats naturally gravitate towards litter boxes, rabbits may need to be trained to use a litter box. Patience and positive reinforcement are required when litter training a rabbit.

Exercise – Rabbits need daily exercise time in a larger space outside of their enclosure. A rabbit should have at least an hour out per day to run around and play. Cats can often get their exercise needs met within the home.

Toys – Rabbits love toys they can dig, toss, and chew on. Recommended toys include untreated wicker baskets, cardboard boxes, hard plastic baby toys, and sisal mats. Cats prefer toys they can chase and capture like balls, mice, and feather wands.

Grooming – Rabbits require regular brushing to prevent them from ingesting loose fur. Cats are usually good self-groomers. Trimming rabbit nails is also important. With cats, nail trims are needed but not as frequently in most cases.

Vet care – It's critical to have an exotic vet for a rabbit, not just a regular cat and dog vet. Rabbits have unique health considerations.

Diet – The ideal diet for a rabbit is unlimited hay, limited pellets, and fresh veggies. Cats need meat-based protein as well as vitamins and minerals.

Chewing – Rabbits love to chew and dig. Owners must rabbit-proof by removing hazards like wires and blocking access to carpet. Cats can usually be deterred from problem chewing with training.

Overall, rabbits have some additional care requirements compared to cats when it comes to housing, exercise, grooming, and veterinary needs. Both make wonderful pets, but rabbits need some special accommodations.

The similarities between rabbits and cats

While there are certainly some differences when it comes to caring for rabbits versus cats, rabbits and cats also share some similarities as companion pets. Here are some of the ways rabbits and cats are alike:

  • Both rabbits and cats can be litter trained. Rabbits may take a bit more effort to consistently use a litter box, but they can be trained.

  • Both pets enjoy playing with toys, whether it's chasing balls or digging at a woven mat. Providing fun toys helps enrich their environments.

  • Rabbits and cats like to have places to hide. Offering boxes, tunnels, cat trees, or cardboard castles gives them a sense of security.

  • They sleep quite a bit! Rabbits and cats will often nap throughout the day and enjoy lying in the sun or curled up in a cozy spot.

  • Cats and rabbits display affection for their owners. They will come up to "greet" you and some like being petted and cuddled if socialized properly.

  • Grooming is an important part of care for long-haired rabbits and cats. Regular brushing prevents ingestion of fur.

  • Neither cats or rabbits should eat "people food." Things like chocolate, onion, or junk food can be harmful. It's best to stick with a proper diet.

  • Spaying/neutering rabbits and cats prevents unwanted litters and can reduce some unwanted behaviors. This surgery is an essential part of responsible pet ownership.

  • Preventative vet care like vaccines and check-ups help keep rabbits and cats healthy. Finding an experienced vet is key.

  • Both make fun, active, and interesting pets when given proper care, environments, nutrition and attention. Their quirky behaviors and personalities make them cherished companions.

So while they have their differences, rabbits and cats also share many common characteristics as domesticated pets. Understanding their similarities can help owners provide good care for both types of animals.

The differences between rabbits and cats

While rabbits and cats certainly share some similar traits as pets, there are also a number of notable differences between caring for bunnies versus felines. Here are some of the key differences:

  • Diet – Rabbits are herbivores and eat hay, vegetables, herbs and limited pellets specially formulated for rabbits. Cats are obligate carnivores and require diets comprised primarily of meat proteins.

  • Housing – Rabbits need much larger housing than cats – at least 4 ft by 2 ft floorspace. Cats only require space for bedding, food/water and litter box plus some play room.

  • Activity Level – Rabbits are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk. Cats are also crepuscular but tend to take short cat naps interspersed with bursts of activity throughout the day and night.

  • Grooming – Rabbits shed constantly and require daily brushing plus occasional trims. Cats self-groom and need less frequent human-assisted grooming.

  • Veterinary Care – It's vital to have access to a rabbit-savvy exotic vet. Rabbits have unique health issues. Regular vets usually only cover cats and dogs.

  • Chewing – Rabbits love to chew and dig. Belongings must be kept out of reach and cords protected. Cats can usually be trained not to destroy belongings.

  • Litter Habits – Rabbits often drop pills around their cage to mark territory. Cats tend to only go in the litter box if kept clean.

  • Temperature Tolerance – Rabbits do better in cool environments 60-70 F degrees. Cats have more flexibility with temperatures from around 55 to 75 F degrees.

  • Lifespan – Well cared for rabbits typically live 8-12 years. Cats usually live 12-16 years on average.

In summary, while both make good pets, the differences in housing, diet, grooming, vet needs, chewing habits, temperature requirements and more mean caring for rabbits and cats requires a specialized understanding of each species. Their needs cannot be met the exact same way.

Deciding which pet is right for you

When trying to decide whether a cat or a rabbit is the right pet for your family, there are several factors to consider including:

  • Time – Rabbits require daily fresh vegetables and time out of cage. Cats need less hands-on time but do require socialization and play.

  • Space – Rabbits need more housing room than cats. Can you dedicate at least a 6×2 ft enclosure?

  • Costs – Adopted rabbits or cats have an initial adoption fee. Other costs include housing supplies, vet bills, toys, food. Rabbits and cats have comparable costs.

  • Allergies – Some with allergies do fine with specific breeds of rabbits or cats. Meet the pet first. Rabbits shed less dander.

  • Experience Level – Cats may be better for first-time owners. Rabbits require more research into proper diet and care.

  • Children – Rabbits are fragile and usually better pets for older gentle kids while cats are sturdier for ages 4+. Always supervise young children.

  • Other Pets – Sometimes cats and rabbits get along but precautions must be taken. Easier to have one species at a time.

  • Activity Level – If you want a pet that keeps you active, rabbits need more hands-on playtime out of cage. Cats play in spurts.

  • Affection – Socialized rabbits and cats enjoy human interaction but less needy pets may also be better for busier families.

Take your lifestyle and family situation into account when choosing a rabbit or cat to ensure you can properly meet all their care needs for their full lifespan.

The pros and cons of rabbit care

Here's an overview of some of the key pros (advantages) as well as the cons (disadvantages) of caring for domestic rabbits:


  • Rabbits can form close bonds with owners with regular gentle handling

  • Very cute, soft, and fun to watch binky and hop around!

  • Rabbits don't trigger allergies as often as other furry pets

  • Rabbits are quiet pets that don't bark or make much noise

  • Their unique personalities and behaviors make them fascinating pets

  • Some rabbits enjoy learning tricks through positive reinforcement

  • Rabbits stay clean and odor-free if their habitat is kept clean


  • Require significant time for socialization, exercise, and habitat cleaning

  • Prone to health issues like GI stasis that require emergency vet visits

  • Must be housed indoors; cannot be left alone outdoors

  • Need daily fresh vegetables; cannot eat traditional "pet food"

  • Require large enclosures to meet their exercise needs

  • Tendency to chew belongings like books, cords, carpet, furniture

  • High upfront costs for spay/neuter, housing, vet bills, etc.

  • Not suited for young children due to fragile bones and skittish nature

  • Requires exotic vet for check-ups and urgent health issues

  • 10 year commitment – lengthy lifespan compared to some other pets

Overall, rabbits make wonderful, interactive pets for the right owners who have time to properly care for them. Making sure their complex needs get met is very rewarding but also requires dedication.

The pros and cons of cat care

Here are some of the major advantages as well as potential challenges of living with a feline companion:

Pros of cat ownership:

  • Cats can be low maintenance pets depending on breed traits

  • They are usually quiet pets who don't require constant attention

  • Cats are cute, soft, and fun to watch pounce and play

  • Cats who are spayed/neutered make very loving companions

  • Cat antics and unique personalities are entertaining

  • Cats are usually independent in using a litter box

  • Cats help control rodent populations around properties

  • Minimal grooming and training needed for most cats

  • Cats of all ages can be readily adopted from shelters/rescues

Cons of cat ownership:

  • Cat fur can aggravate allergies for some people

  • Litter boxes require frequent scooping and full cleaning

  • Cats have potential to scratch furniture or disrupt belongs

  • Specific diets are required for cats to meet nutritional needs

  • High risk of obesity or diabetes if diets are not controlled

  • Some medical expenses for vaccines, checkups, injuries etc.

  • Cats live 12-16 years on average so long commitment

  • Bored cats may exhibit nuisance behaviors like waking owners

  • Cat claw trims needed unless claws are removed

  • Natural hunting instincts make some cats wander or escape

With proper care, cats can make wonderfully entertaining yet low-maintenance companions. However, felines still require specific foods, medical care, and training to ensure a rewarding relationship.

What to do if you have a rabbit and cat in your home?

Having both a cat and a rabbit under the same roof can raise some unique challenges. Here are some tips for rabbit and cat cohabitation:

  • Always monitor first interactions on neutral territory – have two people present

  • Be prepared to keep the pets separated – provide rabbit cage "safe zone"

  • Make sure the rabbit enclosure is sturdy with a firmly secured top – no access for cat

  • Provide food, litter boxes, toys for each pet in separate areas of home

  • Have separate beds, perches, scratchers so resources aren't shared

  • Ensure the rabbit gets ample exercise in an area the cat does not access

  • Never leave the two unattended together until you are certain they get along

  • Be vigilant – a rabbit's instinct will be to run which can trigger cat predatory chase response

  • Have a water spray bottle on hand – a gentle squirt if cat is overly focused on the rabbit

  • Ensure the rabbit has a hiding box – this will help them feel more secure

  • Avoid startling the rabbit so they don't dart away and trigger the cat's reaction

  • Use positive reinforcement when the pets are calm and relaxed around each other

  • Be patient – it can take time for some cats and rabbits to form mutual trust

  • Consult an animal behaviorist if issues between pets persist despite precautions

Proper introductions are key to cohabitating a cat and a rabbit. Always put the rabbit's safety first and provide separate everything to avoid resource conflicts between pets.

Are your pets compatible?

How do you know if your rabbit and cat are compatible enough to safely live together? Here are some signs your pets are getting along well:

  • The pets ignore one another or calmly co-exist in the same room

  • You see gentle grooming or touching between the pair

  • Both pets wait for their own resources (food, beds, toys) rather than competing

  • The pets voluntarily approach each other without fear or aggression

  • Play bows, flopping next to each other, quiet companionship

  • You can pet one animal without the other becoming jealous

  • The pets eat their own food without trying to steal from each other

  • Neither pet prevents the other from accessing shared resources like water

  • Lack of Territorial marking against things the other pet touches or uses

  • Relaxed body language – no raised fur, growling, lunging, nipping or chasing

  • Your rabbit still runs and plays normally around the cat

  • Lack of injuries or scratches inflicted between the pair

  • The rabbit eats, drinks and uses litter normally when cat is present

  • The pets can be left alone unsupervised without negative incidents

Signs your pets may not get along:

  • Fighting – this includes biting, scratching, boxing, kicking litter

  • Fearful or aggressive body language – arched backs, hissing, swatting

  • One pet constantly chasing or pouncing on the other

  • Terrified, aggressive, or anxious behavior in either animal

  • Injuries like scratches or bite wounds between the pair

  • Resource guarding over items like food, beds or toys

  • Marking or spraying around the home by either pet

If any of the above incompatibilities arise, keep your pets separated for their safety. Professional training guidance could be needed in some cases to improve pet relationships.

Introducing your pets

When bringing a new rabbit or cat home to a resident cat or rabbit, slow measured introductions help ensure a safe meet up. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the pets apart at first but allow them to smell each other through doors

  • Exchange pet beds or blankets so they get used to the other's scent

  • Once they seem comfortable, do an initial meet with the rabbit safely in their enclosure

  • Give lots of treats and praise for calm behavior – this will help build positive associations

  • Hold the cat on your lap and let the pair sniff each other through the bars

  • Next allow short supervised meets of 5-10 minutes outside the enclosure in neutral room

  • Continue daily supervised sessions, gradually increasing contact time

  • If meetings go well, you can lift barriers separating their spaces but still monitor

  • Keep food, water, beds and litter boxes separate to prevent guarding

  • Provide vertical escape routes for your rabbit so they can jump up if chased

  • Use calming aids like pheromone sprays if the initial transition causes stress

  • Never rush the introduction process – slow acclimation helps prevent territorial issues

  • Be prepared to keep pets separated with barriers or in separate rooms if needed

Patience is key. Let each pet signal through their body language when they are ready for the next level of interaction. With time, many rabbits and cats can learn to get along!

How to keep your pets separate

If your rabbit and cat simply can't co-exist, keeping them safely apart may be best. Here are some tips:

  • Use baby gates to block off rooms – make sure they are sturdy and prevent jumping

  • Keep the rabbit enclosure in a spare room with door closed – affix signs so others don't open door

  • Let each pet have their own "floor" of home – rabbit downstairs, cat upstairs

  • Ensure shared ventilation systems don't allow cat access to rabbit smells

  • Feed them on opposite sides of same closed door so smells are exchanged

  • Swap them into each other's safe spaces regularly so they acclimate to smells

  • Place cat trees, perches and shelves so cat can be up high away from rabbit zones

  • Use an x-pen around the rabbit whenever they are out for exercise away from enclosure

  • Make sure the rabbit enclosure is firmly secured – check for any possible weaknesses

  • Keep a squirt bottle handy to discourage cat from focusing on rabbit zones

  • Consider using calming pheromone plugins to ease stress in transition

  • Rotate enrichment activities so each pet gets focused human playtime separately

  • Ensure the rabbit enclosure is large enough to meet exercise needs since free roaming is limited

  • Try short, closely supervised meetups on neutral ground to check compatibility

Keeping rabbits and cats separate takes diligence, but prevents the risk of injuries. Just make sure each pet still gets adequate attention, enrichment and space.

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