Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Do Cats Attack and Eat Rabbits?

Dean Eby

Everyone knows that cats love to chase, hunt, kill, and play with mice. Most cat toys are even in the shape of mice. If you’ve ever seen a cat stalk and pounce on one of these mouse toys, then you know just how much hunting prowess your cat has, even though they were born in captivity. Granted, mice aren’t the only type of creature that cats like to kill. Many cat owners have stories about their cat bringing them dead birds as a tribute.

Birds and mice are very small animals though. Cats are much larger than mice and birds, but will they still attack, kill, and even eat animals that are larger? What about, say, a rabbit?

The truth is, cats love to hunt and kill. They even play with their freshly caught victims in a sadistic manner. If the opportunity presents itself for a cat to kill a rabbit, you can bet that cat is going to take it.

divider-multipet

Obligate Carnivores

Similar to wolves, snakes, and other known hunters, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they get all of their nutrition from animals. They don’t eat fruits, vegetables, or any other type of plant matter. Instead, they feed on the animals that eat plant matter.

Everyone knows that cats love to kill mice and birds. Though it may seem hard to believe that your cat who turns its nose up at the food you offer if it’s the wrong consistency isn’t a very picky eater, but when it comes to freshly caught and killed prey, cats will eat a very diverse range of animals.

15Siamese Cat
Image Credit: klimkin, Pixabay

Aside from the small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs, and the small non-mammal animals like birds, lizards, and frogs, cats have even been known to catch and eat fish.

Cunning Hunters

Beyond being obligate carnivores, felines are also naturally cunning hunters, and they love to exercise this ability. You’ve likely seen your cat stalk and pounce on its toys many times before. This is because cats don’t just kill out of the need for food; they do it for fun. Cats love to hunt and love to kill, and they’re very adept at it.

If a cat sees an opportunity to hunt a sizable, defenseless mammal like a rabbit, you best believe that it will jump at the chance. That’s not to say that every cat will attack every rabbit it sees, but if you’ve got a sizable cat around and it sees an unprotected bunny… well, let’s just say it’s open season.

Will a Cat Bite Kill a Rabbit?

Cats have a rather vicious bite. You can survive it with ease due to your size, but smaller creatures like rabbits will be in big trouble after a cat bite. Furthermore, cat saliva contains bacteria that can infect the rabbit. So, even if the rabbit doesn’t die immediately, it will likely die shortly after due to the severity of the wounds and bacterial infection.

Do Cats Always Eat the Rabbits they Kill?

Humans often have this fairy tale view of nature like everything is peaceful and harmonious. Some people even claim that only humans are sadistic enough to kill for fun, but that’s simply not true. Cats kill for fun often, and they love to even torment their prey while killing them slowly. If that’s not sadistic, then nothing is!

Because of their love of killing, cats have been known to kill many creatures they don’t even eat. Granted, a cat certainly will eat a rabbit if the cat is hungry enough. But housecats in captivity are not usually hungry enough to eat what they kill. They’re also rather happy with their gourmet food that you prepare for them. But the instinct to hunt and kill is strong in a feline, so they may kill a rabbit just for the fun of it with no intention of eating it.

cat and rabbit
Image Credit: stefanoceruti63, Pixabay

Dangers of Eating Rabbits for Cats

Just because a cat can eat a rabbit doesn’t mean it should. Rabbits often carry tularemia. This often kills large portions of rabbit and rodent populations, though it can be just as hazardous for your cat. Humans who hunt rabbits check them for tularemia, but cats don’t have that ability.

How to Keep Rabbits Safe from Cats

The other side of the coin is that rabbits in captivity can be in danger from cats around them. If you fear for your rabbit’s safety, then you’ll need to build it a cat-proof enclosure. Something with metal fencing that can withstand a cat’s claws and teeth. With your rabbit safely inside this cat-proof enclosure, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

divider-food2

Conclusion

Cats will kill and eat many different types of small animals, from mice to birds and up to rabbits. In fact, a cat might even kill a rabbit with no intention of eating it. Cats love to hunt and kill and it’s deep within their instinct to do so. If you have a pet cat, you should try to prevent it from eating rabbits as it could contract tularemia. For rabbit owners, ensure your rabbit is safely tucked away in a cat-proof enclosure to keep it safe from neighborhood cats.


Featured Image: Eddy Van 3000 from in Flanders fields – Belgiquistan – United Tribes ov Europe, Wikimedia Commons

Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.  He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning.  An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.