In detail

Cat chasing rabbits: what to do?

Most cat owners have got used to the fact that their cat chases mice and brings them home. But what if suddenly a whole rabbit lies on the doorstep? Can one get rid of this behavior from the velvet paws and can cats and rabbits be kept together under one roof? Sometimes cats and rabbits live together, but mostly it means stress - Shutterstock / Africa Studio

As cuddly and lovely a cat can be, it's easy to forget that it is a predator. The owners of velvet paws with free access in particular are regularly reminded of the fact that they bring their favorites with them that their Sofapuma likes to hunt. In addition to the usual mice and birds, some people sometimes get larger animals like rabbits out of the door. Can you do something about it?

Why do cats hunt rabbits?

Your cat gets food, toys and attention at home and still goes hunting. But why rabbits? The answer is simple: for the same reason that it chases everything else. Hunting is a deeply rooted instinct that domestic cats have not lost. It's not just about hunger and food, it's also about pleasure. When cats play with their prey, it also has no life-supporting purpose - it simply delights the kitties.

The instinct to hunt can be addressed by anything, for example cat toys: the structure, the movements and the smell trigger the impulse to make prey. Your cat hunts and kills her toy. If the room tigers jump on rustling paper and feathered balls themselves, it is hardly surprising that a living rabbit is exciting for them. Everything that moves and is suitable for prey in size is hunted if possible.

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Should we stop cats from hunting rabbits?

The first question is: why don't you want your cat to hunt rabbits? You cannot tell a cat that it can only kill certain animals. The division into animals that can be killed and animals that are worth protecting is a deeply human and completely arbitrary division. If it's okay for your cat to bring mice or birds home, wild rabbits shouldn't make a difference. On the other hand, small rodents and poultry are just as sorry for you as cute puffy tails.

Things get a little more complicated when your darling makes the rabbit enclosure of the neighboring children his hunting ground. Killing rabbits is generally not a problem for your cat. Some Hoplers actually defend themselves, but not to an extent that would be more dangerous than brawling among meowing species. Some cats stop touching the long ears as soon as they stop moving, others almost completely devour their prey.

This is not harmful to the health of the girls. Only if your darling mainly feeds on rabbits should you make sure that you have enough taurine because rabbit meat contains relatively little of it. The small bones of the Mümmler are no problem for the hunters. If you have an outgoer, you should always ensure adequate protection against parasites and extensive vaccination protection. If your pet likes to hunt, then health care is all the more important because the prey can transmit diseases. It doesn't make much difference whether it's mice, rats or rabbits.

Collar with bells for rabbit hunting?

Basically, you can only be sure that your cat will not hunt rodents, birds and rabbits if you only keep them indoors. However, there are some options for free-runners to at least reduce hunting success. A collar with a bell partially warns potential victims of the approaching hunter.

Ringing bells also irritate your cat's sensitive hearing. In addition, collars can get caught in branches and fences and thus ensure that your darling strangles. Therefore, this method is not recommended, especially since cats often stalk themselves so skillfully that the warning bell only sounds when it is already too late for the victim.

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How else can you stop cats from hunting?

A method with far fewer side effects: Get your velvet paw indoors at least from dusk. Most small animals are active in the evenings, so that as night falls, there is a living buffet for cats. But those who are not outside do not hunt either. You cannot train your hunting behavior and depending on your character, the instinct varies from animal to animal.

However, there are two things you can do to at least lessen your pet's urge. Number one: Feed your cat well. Hunger may not be the main motivator, but it is an additional incentive - comparable to people who go shopping hungry. Number two: Play with your fur nose every day, preferably in a way that mimics the preferred prey as closely as possible. So if your hunter is primarily targeting rabbits, he likes to run and like to hunt something bigger that hooks. If you take that into account when playing together and the temptation to go out to live long-ears outdoors, it will hopefully not be that big anymore.

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Can cats and rabbits live together?

Sometimes the most unusual combinations work and there are actually households where cats and rabbits are kept together as pets. But this is more a toleration than a thick friendship. If the hoplers tend to flee, the cat will usually hunt them. If they tend to confront, keep the velvet paw at a distance.

But even if living together on the whole works, a certain movement can suddenly produce the hunting instinct and lead to serious injuries or worse. This happens so suddenly and quickly that you can hardly intervene in time. Overall, a common keeping of cats and rabbits, in which all animals can move freely, is not really recommended.

You might also be interested in these topics about cat education:

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