I’ve been researching and preparing for bunny familyship for months and we’re finally ready to take the plunge. The most frightening part of getting a new bunny is introducing cats to bunnies. Will the cat think the bunny is a snack? Will the cat be aggressive towards the rabbit? Will the bunny be utterly terrified? These questions will be answered in my home very soon. I am outlining the best tips I’ve found online and will update the post with my own personal observations after the introduction process is complete.
1. Move slowly. There is no reason Mr. or Mrs. Bunny needs to get intimate with the cats immediately. Give the bunny a safe, secure area like a cage with a box to hide in and let the bunny get used to the small area, preferably in a room the cats don’t have access to at first.
2. Introduce scents before introducing animals. Cats and rabbits both have a much stronger sense of smell than humans and rely on it for information about the world. Pet the rabbit then let the cats smell his or her scent on your hands and clothes. Since the rabbit’s scent will be mixed with your own, it will both acclimate the cat to the idea of a rabbit and enforce the idea that the rabbit is a friend who is welcome in the home.
3. Supervise introductions. Introduce one kitty at a time to the bunny. Make sure to trim the cat’s claws before the introduction. Let the animals smell each other through the cage and give the bunny the freedom to hide in a box or hideaway if he feels uncomfortable. If the initial introduction goes smoothly, let them interact outside the cage for the second meeting. If they need more time before interacting outside the cage, let them have it. Never leave the cat unattended with the rabbit until you’re positive that they’re safe together. Keep in mind that if the cat exhibits behavior you don’t appreciate, you can always try reprimanding him with a spray bottle. Try to avoid scolding the cat as cats don’t learn well from that type of approach. If the rabbit charges the cat, don’t intervene unless the cat reacts aggressively and puts the rabbit in danger.
Edit 1: After his first day home Wally was definitely scared of the cats but not as much as I anticipated. He is currently staying in the room Olivia normally sleeps in so she kind of freaked out that we locked her in the hall. After giving Wallace a little time to get used to his home we let her in and she just sat there and stared at him for a while. When she finally started moving again she wanted to climb on his cage and had to be sprayed. The bunny kept coming out of his box and peeking at her then going back in to hide, so it will definitely take multiple introductions. Stanley was curious this morning so I let him look at Wally and he was interested but he gave up quickly in favor of his routine morning cuddle.
Edit 2: 2nd day after work I let the Don check in on the bunny and he did great. He licked the bunny on the top of the head! Stanley swatted the bunny though. He’s going to take a lot more time. Luckily the bunny barely even flinched.
Edit 3: Stanley sat near the bunny and watched him play. The bunny came up to him and wouldn’t get out of his space and Stan slapped him. This happened a couple of times before the bunny went back to playing. I’m not overly concerned with the cat’s behavior because he isn’t hunting and he stops immediately when the rabbit backs off.
Edit 4: It’s day 6 and I’m feeling good about Wally and the kitties. He has been interacting with them through his playpen and cage all week. The cats are getting used to seeing him around. I let Donny in the playpen and he gave Wally a kiss. Olivia is still under 2 so she’s more intrigued by the bunny and thinks he might like to play like a kitten would so she has a lot of work to do. Stanley went in the playpen and sniffed the bunny then just kind of didn’t care and wanted pets from me instead.