Do Cats Eat Rabbits – A Surprising Tale


Cats have always been enthusiastic hunters, particularly when it comes to outdoor creatures like rabbits. The reason behind cats attacking rabbits may leave you curious. Cats primarily hunt rabbits for entertainment, although sometimes they go too far. This raises the question: do cats consume rabbits?

Indeed, cats are capable of consuming rabbits. Additionally, it is not uncommon for cats to capture and eliminate rabbits without consuming them. However, it is important to note that the act of eating rabbits can be detrimental to a cat’s health and may lead to the acquisition of Tularemia.

The frequency of hunting rabbits by cats varies depending on the individual cat, the reasons behind the killing, and the abundance of rabbits in the cat’s vicinity. While it is considered typical for cats to consume rabbits as part of their predatory behavior, owners often lack a clear understanding of the details. The following explanations aim to shed light on the origins of this behavior, its specific aspects, potential health consequences, and methods to discourage cats from engaging in it.

Why Does My Cat Bring Me Dead Rabbits

There has been ongoing discussion for years regarding the reason behind cats bringing their owners deceased or mostly deceased animals.

There is a theory that cats eat rabbits to impress their owners and prove their skills as hunters. When a cat catches a rabbit, it may take a few bites and then save the rest as a treat, hoping for recognition from its owner.

Some people believe that the creature is a gift, a means for the cat to express gratitude to their owner for providing them with food.

However, some individuals believe that cats may be attempting to educate humans on hunting, much like they do with their own offspring. Particularly among female cats, there is a possibility that they view their human companions as part of their family and wish to contribute to the household’s food supply by hunting and presenting their prey. In fact, they may even bring back partially alive creatures in the hopes that their owners will take charge and complete the hunt.

Therefore, dead rabbits should not be treated significantly differently. From the perspective of a cat, it is simply considered as another accomplished hunting expedition.

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Why Do Cats Kill Rabbits 

The cat’s ability to eat rabbits can vary greatly depending on its circumstances.

When it comes to cats, their natural hunting instinct is what motivates them to catch prey, even if they are well-fed and have a caring owner. However, there are some cats who may only chase rabbits for the excitement of the hunt, as we are aware that cats often enjoy playing with their prey and do not always consume them entirely. Alternatively, a cat might choose to eat only a portion of the rabbit, such as the head, as a way to commemorate its victory.

When it comes to a cat, especially one that is feral and responsible for taking care of a litter of kittens, the primary motivation for seeking food is survival. In such situations, the cat will probably carry the rabbit’s body to a location it deems secure from potential threats and consume it. This process exemplifies the natural order of life!

Can A Cat Bite Kill A Rabbit

Indeed, just one bite can be fatal for a rabbit. Although the rabbit might initially evade the attack, if a cat fails to immediately kill it, the bacteria present in a cat’s mouth will likely cause an infection that ultimately leads to the rabbit’s demise. In the absence of intervention, it is common for a cat to persistently chase and ultimately complete the kill after delivering a bite.

 If you have intervened and separated your cat from its prey, the rabbit will require urgent medical care. Depending on the rabbit’s condition, you might be able to safely confine it and transport it to a hospital. While not all veterinarians accept rodents, numerous emergency animal hospitals are capable of treating rabbits. It is important to verify if the hospital can accommodate rabbits in advance to prevent unnecessary trips.

What Do You Do If Your Cat Catches A Rabbit

If you discover your cat engaged in a hunt, try diverting or isolating the cat. Provide a beloved treat or toy to lure the cat indoors or, if feasible, physically extract the cat from the scenario to enable the rabbit to flee. If given an opportunity and unharmed, the rabbit will make an effort to escape. If the rabbit sustains injuries, after removing your cat, obtain a small cardboard box containing a gentle blanket or towel and transport the rabbit to a veterinarian.

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 If the cat does not belong to you and may be a feral cat, refrain from trying to approach or capture it unless you have received proper training. This can pose a significant safety risk if the cat were to attack you! Instead, contact a wildlife service or divert the cat’s attention by tossing treats or food in the opposite direction of the rabbit and away from yourself. Some services specialize in trapping feral cats and attempting their rehabilitation, but it is not advisable for untrained individuals to do so independently. 

 If you are aware that your cat is tempted to partake in hunting behavior, consider keeping your cat indoors. There are numerous advantages, both for the local wildlife and your beloved feline companion, in keeping your cat inside. It is feasible to transition an outdoor cat into becoming an indoor cat. Although your cat may enjoy being outdoors, there are safe methods to supervise their outdoor time. For instance, you can use a harness and leash or construct an outdoor enclosure near your home. These enclosures often feature windows or mesh that allow the cat to smell and observe the outside world without engaging in hunting or attempting to escape.

Can Cats Get Sick From Eating Rabbits

If you are aware that your cat has recently hunted and killed a rabbit, there is a strong likelihood that it also consumed part of the rabbit. In such a situation, it is advisable to take your cat to the veterinarian for an examination, although regular check-ups are recommended regardless if your cat goes outdoors. Generally, it is not advisable to allow your cat to roam freely outside without supervision for long periods of time. This is not only due to the potential diseases that your cat may contract but also because of the various larger predators and hazards that your cat may encounter.

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One disease that should be monitored after hunting a rabbit is Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever.” This infection can be contracted through insect bites, contaminated water, or primarily by consuming an infected rodent. Although it is uncommon to contract the disease through other means of transmission, cats that eat rabbits, mice, and other rodents are susceptible to getting rabbit fever. 

How To Check Your Cat For Tularemia

Tularemia typically induces a high fever in cats, along with swollen lymph nodes in the head and neck, abdominal pain, and potential yellowing of the whites of the eyes. These temperatures can reach exceptionally high levels, occasionally exceeding 106 degrees Fahrenheit. If left untreated, this illness ultimately results in organ failure and fatality. If you observe any of these indications in your cat, it is imperative to promptly seek veterinary assistance!

In addition to your cat‘s well-being, it’s essential to know that you and other humans in your household are also at risk of Tularemia. If your feline is infected and it scratches or bites a person, they have been exposed and can easily catch it too. You’ll notice a blister around the bite or scratch in three to five days on average in a human. This is why Tularemia is a reported disease; it’s considered a public health risk.

If your cat has been attacked by a rabbit and you suspect it may have Tularemia, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary assistance. The best chance of successful treatment lies in hospitalizing your cat for aggressive therapy as soon as possible. Even if your cat does not show any symptoms, it is still important to have it examined by a veterinarian. Despite early diagnosis and treatment, the mortality rate for Tularemia in cats remains alarmingly high.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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