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How do I introduce my new kitten to my rabbits?

Both rabbits and cats are very sociable animals and can make wonderful companions for each other – it is not unusual to find cats and rabbits playing together or grooming one another. However, they are not always instinctively friendly t and it may take some time and patience to ensure that your pets become comfortable with one another. Although you might worry that your rabbits will be afraid of your kitten, keep in mind that rabbits can be quite confrontational, and are just as likely to react aggressively to your kitten.

Before introducing your kitten to your rabbits make sure that it is comfortable and confident in it’s new home.  This may take a few days or even a couple of weeks.  Slowly introduce your kitten to parts of the house where she will not come into contact with the rabbits. Make sure that your kitten has a hiding spot to retreat to in case she feels threatened – a cardboard box on its side, lined with blankets or towels will provide her with a warm, safe place to hide and sleep in.

Once your kitten is comfortable in it’s new home you can begin to introduce the kitten to your rabbits. Since rabbits can be quite territorial this is best done in neutral territory.  If possible use a small room that your rabbits have never visited. Initial meetings are best done through a cage so that both your rabbits and kitten can safely get to know each other without being in danger of scratches or bites. Supervise these interactions once a day for at least a week before allowing the animals to interact.  When first allowing both animals to interact without their cages make sure that they both have a safe hiding place nearby, preferably their own basket or cage.  It is essential that you are present for all interactions between your kitten and rabbits so that you can intervene if necessary. If you have to leave the room for any reason make sure that both animals are separated.  Do not leave your animals unsupervised until you are absolutely sure that they are comfortable with one another. Be prepared for this process to take many months. Even when all your pets are very close remember to always provide a safe retreat for every animal (particularly your rabbits once your kitten is fully grown) and keep your kitten’s claws trimmed since even a play scratch can cause a painful abscess. Your vet can show you how to do this. Also keep in mind that the dynamic between your pets may change depending on where they are in your house or garden. If your rabbits usually reside in the garden they may become uncomfortable and defensive when brought inside and forget their closeness to your cat.  Likewise, they may become territorial and aggressive when your kitten enters their domain in the garden.

If you are interested in learning more about interactions between cats and rabbits, then the House Rabbit Society website might be of interest: https://rabbit.org/journal/2-11/cats-and-rabbits.html

It is essential to thoroughly research the basics of pet care before acquiring a new pet. RSPCA Australia recommends you take the time to find a detailed book on the species or breed you are purchasing well before bringing it home, so that you are positive your choice of pet will be appropriate for your lifestyle and you are well prepared for its arrival.  Consider talking to a vet before deciding on a pet as they will be able to advise you about health care and any breed-related conditions to anticipate.

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Updated on April 30, 2019
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