If you have a rabbit at home and want to introduce a dog or a cat to the same environment, you might be hesitant. It’s likely the same hesitation you felt when you introduced a new cat to your dog or visa versa. People who take home rescued animals often want to just take care of as many as their house can physically accommodate, but they sometimes run into problems with different animals not liking one another very much. Here we’ll explain whether a dog can live with a rabbit or a cat, and how you can ensure you have one big happy (furry) family.
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Temperament is key
When people ask us if it is okay to introduce a new animal into their home, we first ask about the kind of temperament their current pet has. If you own a calm pet, then he or she may be able to cope with the introduction of a new animal relatively well. Pets that are unpredictable, aggressive, territorial or simply unfriendly, however, will be unlikely to take well to a new addition to the home. You have to know your pet’s attitude to get some idea as to how they will handle a new addition.
Try to utilize the prime socialization period
There is a point in many animals’ lives where they are most likely to take well to a new animal in their environment. They are most likely to socialize in what is called their prime socialization period. This is different for various animals. For puppies, the period extends through their first three months of life, according to VetStreet. For kittens, that period covers just the first two months. Of course, your animal can learn to socialize with others, but it helps if you catch them at the right point in their life.
Make sure you have safe spaces set up
Even if your animals all get along pretty well most of the time, they will need some safe spaces to retreat to every once in a while. There will be times where they are feeling aggressive or territorial, and you will want to have them separated. There will be times where one of them may be feeling skittish, and you can really help them feel less anxious if they have a private place they can be alone and unbothered.
For cats, this is usually a perch up high. For rabbits, that should be an indoor rabbit hutch or pen that the dog cannot get into or even see. You need to give your pet a sense of security and safety, and they can only have that if they have a space all to themselves that the larger predator cannot access.
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Will they share sicknesses?
If you are worried about your dog giving your cat something to make it sick or your cat spreading disease to your dog or rabbit, then you can relax. There are generally no communicable illnesses between these species. They tend to only get sick with communicable diseases from their same species. Most of what they become ill with will stay with them, and they are unlikely to even pass it on to you.
You should definitely treat your sick animal to get it feeling better as soon as possible, but it’s not necessary to quarantine the animals from each other when only one is sick. Odds are that they will get better and not pass it on to the other animals.
Which kinds of animals are the worst for pairing?
This is a question we get every now and then that pet owners are afraid to get an answer for. They wonder if their dog or cat or rabbit might not be compatible with other pets they wish to bring in. Like we said, the attitude or temperament of the animals is a big factor. However, some breeds of dogs or cats are simply more companion-ready and will get along with most other animals, after a little introduction. Basically, any of the following dogs that are considered good family dogs will also be great pet buddies with other animals you have:
- Other mild-mannered dogs
The worst animals for pairing are those that are naturally aggressive or territorial. If your dog has a bit of wolf in him or her, then it might not be a good animal partner. If your cat is generally irritable and not the kind of cat that likes to play much, then it might not be a good fit for a rabbit. If you want to help with your pet’s aggressive tendencies, be sure to get a pet that is spayed or neutered or have it taken for that minor operation. If you own a large dog, a training collar (martingale) is recommended for the first couple of months.
Top tip: If your pet brings you trophies of its hunts, then it may be a poor choice for pairing with a smaller animal as well.
Lots of different animals can be paired together and get along famously. You just have to bring them together carefully and make sure they are a good match for one another. There are ways you can make your home or your property safer and more comfortable for your animals. You can help them to work together to be friends. They don’t have to be against one another just because they are different species and one is a hunter while another is a prey animal. Your pets are likely more concerned with who is in charge rather than who should be eaten or terrorized. And ultimately, once your pets get used to one another, they should get along very well.