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My rabbit hates my cat. What do I do?

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Haleigh

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Hi everybody! This is my first post on here and I really need some advice.

I have a 2 year old neutered male Lionhead rabbit named Edgar. He has free roam of the house, only going into his cage to use his litter box and eat and drink. He’s extremely sweet to me, and always has been. He doesn’t like to be held but he constantly begs for me to pet him. Overall I’ve had no problems with his behavior.

About a month ago, we brought home a cat. She’s a very sweet 6 year old calico. We introduced them slowly, in neutral territory, and everything seemed fine the first day. The cat tried to befriend him, and Edgar seemed okay with it at first.

However, the next day and every day after has been horrible. Edgar lunges and growls at the cat constantly now. At first it was just whenever she went near his cage, which was understandable, but now he specifically seeks her out throughout the house during the day just to chase her and try to bite her. She used to react calmly and would just walk away, but she’s beginning to fear him and has started hissing whenever he tries to bite her. Sometimes he’s completely fine with her, but most of the time he very clearly doesn’t want her around.

Because of this, Edgar is no longer allowed to free roam. I don’t want either of them to be hurt, and I’m beginning to fear that our cat will have to be rehomed. It’s not fair to either of them, but if we don’t find a way to resolve the problem soon I don’t know what other options we’ll have.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I don’t need them to be best friends, but a peaceful coexistence would be ideal.
 

Mehidk

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Definitely sounds like Edgar is being territorial. He's used to being the fur baby of the house, and now this "new thing with fur" has invaded his space.

You will need to start over again with the neutral area with no distractions. But first, have you thought about using a blanket or something that belongs to each one and put it in each other's area? So Edgar would have a blanket of the cat's scent and vice versa. Do this every day. It was good of you to limit his space for the time being.

After they've gotten used to each other's scent, and that Edgar is in a secured area, I would allow the cat to "visit" outside of his cage/pen for 30 minutes. Make sure you monitor their interaction. You'll want her to be able to sniff his area out, and vice versa. Provide a safe space for Edgar if he gets scared - like a tunnel that he can hide in. If he continues to keep hiding then go back to the blanket method and switch back and forth between the two. Once you feel confident that the two are getting used to being near each other, you can start letting the rabbit out. Put the cat in the carrier or a harness. I would suggest doing this when they're both calm and relaxed (like after feeding time). If you take Edgar out and he's still afraid, then he's not ready yet.

If Edgar tries to assert himself and charge at your cat, it's okay. He has to understand that the cat is not a danger to him. However, if there's any biting/scratching/etc from either party, that's when you intervene. Remember, it's his natural instinct to think that a cat or anything that chases him - is a predator. If Edgar gets stressed out and runs away or bites, then you'll need to separate them again until he is relaxed. You were going in the right direction, but perhaps it was too much for both of them and so sudden. Sometimes it can take weeks. It is possible, but it all depends on their behaviors and how much time you're willing to put into it. Best of luck to you!
 
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