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Rabbits vs Cats: 11 Biggest Differences & 13 Similarities (2022)

Rabbits vs Cats

Rabbits and cats are popular household pets.

They’re both adorable fluffballs.

And they have the magic to bring smiles to our faces.

But aside from being cute…

What more similarities do they have?

And which one makes a better pet and why?

Keep reading to discover:

  • 11 things that make rabbits different from cats.
  • 13 surprising similarities between the two of them as pets.
  • Whether rabbits are friendlier and smarter than cats or not.
  • The answers to, “Are cats and rabbits related?” and “Is a rabbit or cat easier?”
  • And many more…

Rabbits vs Cats: 11 biggest differences


#1: Diet

One huge difference between rabbits and cats is their dietary needs.

The former only feed on plants. While the latter eat meat.

Rabbits are on a vegan diet composed of:

  • Hay.
  • Leafy greens. 
  • Rabbit pellets.

So unlike cats, bunnies can’t eat meat. And this is because their digestive system wasn’t made for it.

Whereas ASPCA says that cats are ‘obligate carnivores.’

“What does it mean?”

These are animals who need meat to survive. And it should be at least 70% of their daily food intake.

“Can cats be on a vegan diet?”

Well, nope. PetsWebMD says that feeding only veggies to cats is bad.

Why?

Because felines need certain nutrients and they only get these from meat. Like proteins, specific minerals, and vitamins.

Interesting fact: Experts say that rabbits don’t eat meat. So scientists were shocked when they saw a hare (their bigger cousin) scavenging on a carcass. This was observed during a long winter in Canada. They said that hares did it because all the vegetation was covered by snow. So they resorted to eating dead bodies of their kind to survive. 

#2: Droppings

Rabbits and cats have contrasting diets.

So it’s only natural for their stools to look and smell different from each other.

A healthy bunny’s poop is almost odorless. And it’ll only stink due to:

  • Stress.
  • Illnesses.
  • Nutrition imbalance.

Also, rabbits produce 2 kinds of droppings:

“What about cats?”

Cats’ stools are stinkier than rabbits. Plus, they’re larger too.

But bunnies usually poop a lot (around 200 to 300 a day). While cats only go on a toilet break once or twice daily.

Check out also: Rabbit Poop Chart: 13 Different Types Of Bunny Poop 

#3: Cleaning time

Rabbits Need More Cleaning Time Than Cats

Rabbits have enclosures. While cats are free to roam around the house.

This is because bunnies may chew things they shouldn’t. And their cages also serve as protection from predators.

But take note. It’s bad to confine a rabbit inside a hutch for long hours.

Bunnies need to run in a larger space for at least 3 hours a day. And their cage must have enough space for them to hop around.

Now, their enclosures need cleaning. Preferably at least once a week.

While their litter box must be changed after 2 to 5 days – depending on the litter.

On the other hand, you don’t have to do these when you have a cat. And their litter can be replaced every 2 to 3 weeks.

In short, rabbits may need more cleaning than cats.

#4: Digestive system

Cats may have sensitive stomachs too. But not as bad as rabbits.

According to VCA, bunnies’ digestive systems are more complex. 

So if you feed them a new food or something they can’t digest, you’ll easily upset their tummies.

This may result in excess gas and bacteria. And it can make a rabbit ill which might also lead to death.

Also, PDSA says that eating keeps a rabbit’s stomach moving. So when they stop, it can be life-threatening.

On the other hand…

Skipping a meal or two may not cause serious stomach problems in cats right away.

But, it can also be a sign of an illness. And their condition will get worse if left untreated.

#5: Ability to vomit

Did you know that rabbits can’t vomit?

“But why?”

Based on a study, gag reflexes are absent in bunnies. The same also goes for rodents – which are believed to be their cousins.

Whereas cats may vomit occasionally.

If they do it less than once a month, it’s only normal. But if it’s frequent, they might be sick.

Now, you’ll not be wiping any gross vomit when you have a rabbit.

But this inability isn’t good as well. This is because it can make them ill especially if they ingest a toxin or foreign body.

#6: Allergies

Research shows that 10% to 20% of humans around the world are allergic to cats and dogs.

But cat allergies are more common between the two. And these are caused by the proteins in their:

  • Pee.
  • Saliva.
  • Dander.

“What about ‘bunny allergies’?”

Usually, people who are allergic to cats don’t have the same reaction to rabbits.

One study says that humans can have allergies to bunnies. But it’s rare compared to felines and canines.

Reading recommendation: Why are rabbits better than dogs?

#7: ‘The prey and the hunter’

Next, rabbits are prey while cats are predators.

Bunnies are hunted as a source of food for many animals. So they’re elusive and easily startled.

Whereas cats are born hunters.

They like to stalk, hunt, and chase. So they can prey on smaller animals too, including rabbits.

#8: The noises they create

Dogs go ‘woof!’ and cats go ‘meow!’

But what about rabbits?

Well, they’re much quieter than the two.

Bunnies don’t meow or bark to communicate with humans.

But, they can produce other sounds using their body to express their feelings. Such as:

  • Humming – happy.
  • Clucking – satisfied.
  • Growling – threatened.
  • Thumping their feet – upset.

The loudest sound they can do is a scream.

But I swear, you don’t like to hear this eerie noise as it means they’re in extreme pain or fear.

A cat’s vocalizations also intensify if they’re lonely, stressed, hungry, or want to breed.

And this could interrupt sleep. (Yes. I know someone who has cats and she barely gets sleep when this happens.)

#9: Body language

Being a prey animal, rabbits can be hard to read.

Their body language is more subtle than other household pets like cats. So it’s more difficult to pick up their signs if you’re not paying close attention.

For example, RSPCA says that nose twitching is already a sign that a bunny is happy. While the absence of it could mean they’re upset.

As well as if they have a raised tail. Or if their ears are held against their back.

#10: Social needs

Rabbits Have More Social Needs

Cats are known to be independent (and snob!).

Well, they are, compared to rabbits.

You don’t have to play and be with them 24/7.

However, cats still crave some lovin’ and attention from their humans.

And there are breeds that are on the clingy side too. Say, Abyssinian and Siamese.

Whereas rabbits are social creatures.

It might not look like it, but they need more attention than you think.

Rabbits don’t do well when left alone. And this might be because, in the wild, they usually live in groups.

So you have to socialize with them every day. Or else, they’ll develop bad behaviors. Like digging their hutch and chewing everything they find.

You might also like: 23 Tips To Stop A Rabbit From Chewing Everything (How-To)

#11: Amount of supervision

Lastly, rabbits are small prey animals.

They shouldn’t be left unattended most of the time. Especially if they’re playing outside in their run.

This is because there are predators out there. Like dogs, birds of prey, and coyotes.

Also, they tend to chew and dig everywhere. So they may chew wires or eat things they shouldn’t.

On the other hand…

Cats also need to be supervised outdoors.

But when they’re inside, they don’t have to be monitored from time to time.

(Oh, unless they have a naughty habit of knocking things over!)


Rabbits vs Cats: 13 similarities


#1:  They can do tricks

Who says you can only teach dogs and cats tricks?

Well, bunnies are clever too.

They enjoy solving puzzles and learning commands.

Although it may take a lot of patience and yummy treats before they succeed. And both rabbits and cats are the same in this sense.

Note: It’s best to start training cats as early as 4 weeks old. But for bunnies, adult and ‘fixed’ ones learn faster. So wait until they’re at least 4 months old or after they’ve been spayed or neutered for better results.

#2: They can be litter trained

Since bunnies are teachable…

They can also be litter trained like cats.

But of course, it’ll be easier to teach felines compared to rabbits.

“Why?”

Doing their business in a litter box is an instinct for most cats.

It’s also normal for them to hide their waste to not attract predators.

Whereas rabbits don’t have this drive.

But, they usually pick a spot where they deposit their poop and pee. So you can teach them to do it in a litter box instead.

#3: They can be exercised indoors

Unlike dogs, rabbits and cats don’t need to be walked outside every day.

Although they can also be taken out on walks on a leash if you’d like to.

Why?

This is because they only require a small space where they can run and stretch their muscles. And they could do this inside your home.

Cats can roam and jump on their towers. While rabbits can also exercise in their indoor run as long as it’s the ideal size.

Note: Experts say that a rabbit’s hutch should be at least 10 ft x 6 ft x 3 ft (3 m x 2 m x 1 m).

#4: They leave fur everywhere

They say it’s hard to wear black shirts if you have a pet at home.

Well, this is true, especially if you own a rabbit or a cat.

Why?

It’s because they shed a lot. And their fur can stick to the fibers on our clothes as if it’s a design.

“Is it normal?”

Yes. In rabbits, this is called ‘molting.’

Specialists say that wild bunnies usually shed more in spring and autumn.

But since pet rabbits are indoors, this may vary. So some bunnies even shed all year round.

This is also normal for cats. And according to vets, they’ll shed more in spring too.

However, excessive loss of hair can be due to:

  • Allergies.
  • Poor diet.
  • Infections.
  • Medications.

#5: They groom themselves constantly

It’s also amusing to watch a rabbit and a cat groom themselves. 

They’ll lick their body until it’s squeaky clean. And the most endearing part is when they wash their face.

Since their tongue can’t reach it, they’ll lick their front legs instead. Then they’ll rub them in their face as if they’re doing a skincare routine.

Watch this adorable bunny do it and melt in too much cuteness:

#6: They don’t usually need a shower

Since bunnies and cats are obsessed with cleaning themselves…

Showers aren’t necessary for them.

The House Rabbit Society even says not to give a bunny one.

“Why’s that?”

A shower might also cause rabbits to panic as it does to cats.

They may wriggle and jump in an attempt to flee, so they’re prone to injuries.

It could also give them a shock, and a bunny can die because of this.

On the other hand, cats don’t also need to take a bath every day. Unless they rubbed themselves on dirt or have a dirty bum.

#7: They sleep a lot

PetMD says that cats can sleep for 15 to 24 hours daily. (Yes, sometimes they do it for one whole day.)

So you’ll see them taking a nap during the day. And they do it in preparation for their hunting hours between dusk and dawn.

When it comes to rabbits, one research found that they sleep 11.4 hours a day on average.

Trivia time!

Did you know that bunnies usually sleep with their eyes open?

Yup. They do this so that they’re still alert in their surroundings.

Remember, they’re prey. And in the wild, sleeping puts them in a vulnerable state.

Rabbits can also keep their eyes open for a long time due to their third eyelid, a.k.a. nictitating membrane.

This moistens up and cleans their eyes. So they can see better even if they’re faced with a predator.

You may also wonder: Are Rabbits Scared Of The Dark? The Surprising Truth

#8: They’re crepuscular

You may notice that rabbits and cats are usually awake at night.

But, they aren’t nocturnal. 

They’re crepuscular.

“What does it mean?”

It means they’re most active at dusk and dawn.

This is the reason why both of them can see at night. However, cats have better night vision than rabbits.

#9: They like hiding spaces

You’ll also often find rabbits and cats hiding.

In bunnies, this is expected since they’re prey animals. So they have the instinct to flee and hide in times of danger.

But experts say that hiding doesn’t only keep them safe. It also calms them down when they’re stressed.

“What about cats?”

Felines are predators. But they’re also prey for bigger animals.

This is why hiding is also natural for them.

Plus, they’re solitary creatures too. So they feel safe in dark, den-like spaces.

You’ll even see them squeezing their bodies in small boxes and holes.

#10: They do better with a companion of their kind

As I said earlier, rabbits are highly social.

They easily get lonely if they’re left alone most of the day. So having another bunny at home can prevent this from happening.

Now, felines can live alone.

But, there’s a condition called ‘single kitten syndrome.’

“What is it?”

It refers to a cat who didn’t learn proper manners.

They tend to play roughly. Plus, they often bite their humans.

And this is because they grew up without a kitty companionship.

One of my friends can attest to this. Because once she adopted another kitten, her old ‘grumpy’ cat turned into a sweet one.

#11: They’re lactose intolerant

Both rabbits and cats need milk when they’re babies.

But they should only drink their mom’s or any safe equivalent to it. And cow milk isn’t on the list.

Why?

Cow milk is high in lactose compared to the other kinds.

It’s a sugar that can only be broken down by an enzyme called ‘lactase.’

And this isn’t found in a rabbit or cat’s tummy.

So if they drink some milk, they’ll likely have an upset stomach. And this may lead to serious problems.

Learn more: 7 Reasons Why Baby Rabbits Can’t Drink Cow Milk

#12: They’re energetic

These two may be smaller than other animals.

But they’ll surprise you with the amount of zest they have with their tiny bodies.

Both rabbits and cats have zoomies. Or those sudden bursts of energy at night or when they’re happy.

Bunnies will ‘binky’ (jump on all fours and twist) in the air too. And it’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see.

While cats will run and jump around as if they’re on a hunt.

#13: They’re similar in showing affection

If a rabbit likes you, they’ll lick you a lot

Then they may also bump you with their head, rub their face on you, nip at you, or follow you all the time.

Cats also do these things to their favorite humans. 

But unlike bunnies, they’ll knead too. As well as blink slowly.

Now, have you heard that rabbits purr too?

It sounds different from a cat’s purr, but they also do it when they’re content.

Further reading: 17 Ways To Tell Your Rabbit Likes You (Check Out #7)


People also ask:


Are cats and rabbits related?

Cats and rabbits aren’t related. Felines belong the Felidae family- under the Carnivora order. While bunnies are from the Leporidae family of Lagomorpha.

However…

All mammals are said to have one common ancestor.

Yup! So all of us may share one old, old, old mother.

Experts say that it’s a mammal that existed 400,000 years after dinosaurs.

One with a long tail, fur, and ability to climb trees. Then it evolved into the many mammals we see today.

Why are bunnies better than cats?

Bunnies are better than cats because they’re quieter. They’re also more social. And their poop doesn’t stink.

So rabbits are perfect for people who live in apartments. And those who prefer a peaceful life.

Also, most people who have cat allergies don’t have reactions to rabbits.

But cats are also great companions. Especially for those who want low-maintenance pets.

So this will depend on the situation.

Are rabbits friendlier than cats?

Rabbits are friendlier than cats. This is because most cats are solitary in nature. Whereas bunnies are social, it may take a while before they trust someone.

“Why’s that?”

This is because they’re prey. So they’re wary of predators – including us.

Although pet rabbits are friendlier than wild ones. Which is due to domestication.

Is a rabbit smarter than a cat?

A rabbit is as smart as a cat. They can learn tricks and be litter trained as well. And they also need mental stimulation every day.

Is a rabbit or cat easier?

A rabbit is easier since they only take up a small space. They’re usually quiet too so it’s less stressful. However, they need more care than cats.

“What do you mean?”

Bunnies need more socialization. So they can’t be left alone for long hours.

While cats can amuse themselves. And don’t usually depend too much on their humans.

Rabbits are a bit harder to litter train too. Plus, they have a complex diet and need to be checked by an exotic vet.