Can cats eat rabbits?
Yes, cats can eat rabbits, but a domestic cat shouldn’t eat rabbits as it’s associated with tularemia, a highly contagious and fatal disease. However, feral cats have been hunting rabbits for their survival for ages.
Not all cats will go after rabbits; it depends on various factors like situation, breed, and environment that affect the urge to chase and kill a rabbit.
So, let’s learn more and find out what motivates our little furball to go after a rabbit. And what you can do about it.
Also Read: Can Cats Eat Cockroaches?
Can Cats Eat Rabbits?
Yes, cats can eat rabbits. In fact, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat to fulfill their nutritional requirement, and rabbit meat is highly nutritious.
In the wild, cats usually eat small animals such as rats, rabbits, mice, moles, lizards, birds, snakes, and other small insects to survive.
Even if you have a domestic cat, their hunting instinct will make them chase rabbits when they saw one, and if caught, they likely bite the rabbit and may eat some of the meat.
While rabbit meat is highly nutritious, there is a problem; eating rabbit meat, especially raw, can cause tularemia, a fatal disease that gets transmitted from rabbits.
Thus, if you have a domestic cat, feed them appropriate cat food to satisfy their hunger and ensure that they don’t get a chance to hunt down a rabbit, whether in the backyard or outside of your house.
Also Read: Can Cats Eat Beef Jerky? – Is it Dangerous?
Cat Eating Rabbit, Is It Safe?
Cats are natural hunters, and it’s pretty obvious for them to hunt in the wild, but it’s not safe for them to consume it; they might get infected.
A rabbit often carries bacteria in its system. If your cat hunts, kills and eats the rabbit meal, they are likely to get infected with a contagious disease called tularemia.
Usually, tularemia is rare in cats, but the chances are relatively high if your cat kills and consumes infected rabbits, rodents, or other animals. It can also get transmitted through insect bites; when blood-sucking insect-like mosquitoes, ticks, midges, or fleas bites your cat, they get affected.
When a cat becomes infected, it will likely show various symptoms based on the infection type. Some common signs include high fever, swelling of lymph glands, breathing problems, weight loss, oral ulcers, or pneumonia.
If your cat recently eaten a wild animal or had fun in the backyard and displaying any of the above symptoms, contact your vet immediately for an immediate examination. Delaying could cost your feline’s life as the disease is highly contagious and can be fatal.
Thus, if you have a domestic cat, I don’t recommend you to leave them outside to explore a world full of predators.
Why Do Cats Kill And Eat Rabbit?
Well, it depends on several factors.
For example, a domestic cat that is well fed will likely chase and hunt down a rabbit for its trill.
Besides, cats often chase, nibble, scratch, bite and play with their prey, and once it’s dead, they usually take a bite, mainly the head, and leave.
Their hunting instinct encourages them to chase and kill prey like rats, birds, moles, or rabbits.
On the other hand, feral cats that no one feeds have to find their own food. In this case, they will likely chase and hunt down a rabbit for their survival.
Can Cats Eat Bunnies?
Like rabbits, bunnies are prey for cats, and they will likely hunt, kill and eat a bunny if they notice them around.
Bunnies are pretty small in size, making them ideal prey for cats; they have no way to fight a cat; instead, they try to run and hide from the predator.
Cats have viral substances in their saliva, and if your cat managed to catch a bunny, their one puncture wound or scratch would make the bunny infected and gradually leads to death.
Is Hunting Rabbit Normal?
Cats are predatory species, and they are very much experts in hunting tiny prey.
Cats are referred to as obligate carnivores, which means they consume much meat to survive and specific nutritional requirements.
Usually, when cats hunt in the wild, they opt for small mammals and birds, which they are capable of tracking alone. The most common prey type for cats are mice, bird moles, snakes, and rodents.
However, some wild cats are highly skilled in hunting large prey just like their ancestors, and they usually go after snakes, raccoons, and rabbits to fulfill their nutritional requirements.
Besides, even if you have a domestic cat, their hunting instinct will urge them to hunt small animals. It’s not because they are hungry, but they want to have fun with it. So, hunting is a natural behavior of cats, and if your cat is chasing a rabbit in the backyard, it’s absolutely normal.
Do Feral Cats Eat Rabbit?
Cats are carnivores, whether it’s feral or domestic. While their owners feed domestic cats, feral has to find theirs.
A feral cat is most likely to kill and eat rabbits for its survival. They live in the wild, and their survival instincts keep searching for the next meal.
Finding food is their first priority which means if they see a rabbit in the garden, backyard, or the jungle, they likely to chase and pounce to kill and eat them to satisfy their hunger.
So, if you have a rabbit in the house, ensure that you don’t leave them outside unsupervised unless they are in a highly secure cage.
Can My Cat Get Sick From Eating A Rabbit?
Tularemia or rabbit fever is a bacterial disease caused by Francisella tularensis, commonly found in rabbits, rodents, birds, sheep, and other domestic animals.
Tularemia is usually spread by an insect bite, contaminated water, or consumption of an infected animal. The symptoms of tularemia usually occur within 3-5 days, but sometimes it takes up to 21 days.
According to VCAhospitals, the signs of tularemia are:
- High fever (104 – 106°F)
- Swollen lymph nodes over the neck and head
- Abdominal pain
- Whiting the eyes
- Organ system failure
Tularemia is highly contagious, but the good news is, it can be cured if diagnosed early with effective fluid therapy and antibiotics. However, it requires aggressive treatment, including hospitalization, with good veterinarian assistance.
Thus, if you suspect your cat has ingested rabbit and showing any of the above symptoms. Immediately take your cat to an expert. Even with early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of death with tularemia in cats are relatively high.
How To Keep Cats Away From Rabbits?
Cats are obligate carnivores, and they likely to see rabbits as their treat to satisfy their appetite. However, not all cats are going to pounce on your rabbit; some cats do get along well with rabbits.
Usually, when rabbits are attacked by a predator like a cat (in this case), their first instinct is to run away and hide from the predator. Rabbits run exceptionally faster, which allows them to defend themselves from predators.
However, I would never recommend you to get a rabbit if you already have a cat in your house or vice versa. But, if you already have both in the same house, it’s your responsibility to provide them safety and ensure that they are safe from all predators, including your own cat.
Here are some tips to keep your cat away from the rabbit:
Cat Proof Rabbit Hutch – A rabbit hutch is the most preferred option by many rabbit owners. It’s highly secure to protect your rabbit from being attacked. However, ensure that all the opening, including gate and top, is entirely safe by locking latches.
Automated Sprinklers – Cats hate water, and if you install an automatic water sprinkler around your rabbit’s cage and your cat gets sprayed on the face several a day, they won’t be likely to come near the rabbit again.
Cat Repellent – Usually, repellents are used to prevent a cat from sniffing around harmful and toxic plants, but you can also use this to secure your rabbit.
Place some lemon or orange peels around your rabbit’s cage; cats hate the smell of citrus fruits and won’t likely to around the cage.
Use them wisely to protect your rabbits. However, I don’t recommend leaving your cat alone with a rabbit; cats are brilliant, which means they will do anything possible to find loopholes.
Can Cats And Rabbit Get Along?
Well, it depends!
Cats are natural predators, and rabbits are prey, which means both in the same house can be challenging.
While cats hunt down and eat rabbits in the wild, they can live together in peace in the same house, but it requires a lot of effort and dedication.
A well-trained cat won’t go after a rabbit, even if they have an instinctual urge to hunt, and the chances are that your cat will learn and eventually become friends.
Initially, make your cat familiar with the rabbit, but it should be from a distance. Let your cat understand that there is a rabbit in the house, and if your cat can control their hunting instinct, you can introduce them.
After that, you can arrange a small meeting at the dinner table. Yes, the dinner table is ideal for the first meeting as the cat is fed and won’t pounce on the rabbit out of hunger.
Once they both are conformable in each other’s presence, you can continue to arrange such interactions until they turn into friends and start playing together.
However, this friendship doesn’t come with a guarantee that your rabbit is safe. Cats are natural hunters, and instinctual behavior might force them to chase and hunt down the rabbit. Thus, leaving them alone in a house is not a good idea.
To conclude this, I would say cats can eat rabbits, but it’s not safe for them to consume as it’s associated with a lethal disease called tularemia.
However, if you have a cat and rabbit in your house, managing both could be tough. Cats are predators, and they see the rabbit as their food. But you can train your cat not to pounce on a rabbit, and they can live peacefully in the same house.
Yet, the relation between a cat and rabbit is a mess, and there is no guarantee that your rabbit will be safe in your absence. Thus, never leave your cat and rabbit in the house unsupervised.
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