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rabbit with cats (and a dog)

22 11:31:30

Hello, I have a 4-yr-old mini rex who has been an only pet since I got him, when he was 5 months old. Now I'm getting married, and my husband will be moving into my house with 3 indoor cats, and we're wondering what we can do to ease this transition.
 The rabbit lives in a large outdoor cage in the summer, and we've seen him nose-to-nose with a local stray cat at the bars of the cage, apparently not frightened (although the cat runs as soon as he sees us). But in the winter, we move his cage into an enclosed porch and let him come into the kitchen during the evenings; he comes in through a pet door. He seems to like being with us, although he's always been skittish and doesn't like being petted - he'll put up with it if the other hand is holding some carrot peelings, but that's about it.
  The cats are old and fairly sedentary; two are 12 years old, and the other is 7 and very shy. They'll be moving into the house during the summer, when the rabbit's outside. Do you think it will be a problem, letting them get used to the house before the rabbit is introduced next winter? I'm hoping they don't become territorial and see the rabbit as an intruder.
  Also, there's a large dog (husky/chow mix), who will also be part of this move. He currently lives almost entirely outdoors, in a fenced-in area. He's 12 years old, but still pretty frisky, and I'm worried that the rabbit will be terrified about having the dog nearby all the time -- I have a small yard, and the rabbit's cage can't really get too far away from the dog's fenced area. Whenever people come down the nearby street walking their dogs, the rabbit gets very tense, and will thump if they get close. It would be great if they could get used to each other and keep each other company outside, but does this ever happen between full-grown dogs and rabbits?
  Thanks for any advice you can give.

Dear Claire,

You're wise to be concerned about stress to the bunny going along with this move, and about introducing predatory companion animals to your gentle, herbivorous pal.  You can read about introducing a dog to your rabbit here:

and about how to introduce the cats and rabbits here:

The author is an experienced animal behavior expert and rabbit rescuer, so she really has the best information.

Cats and rabbits can be great pals, and since they're of different species it's not likely that either will see the other as a territorial threat.  But there are other concerns, such as claws and teeth, in case cat or bunny feels threatened.  It might be a good time to have your bunny neutered now, and litterbox train him so that he can have run of the house and get to know the cats as his buddies when the house is new to all of them.  You can read about spay/neuter here:

and about litterbox training here:

You say your bunny is shy, but that could be simply because he doesn't get enough social interaction living out in a cage.  You can learn how to win his trust and affection here:

Rabbits don't fit the old adage about not learning new tricks once they're grown.  Rabbits tend to adapt and change behaviors very well as they age, so I don't see your bunny being "set in his ways" as an obstacle to everyone getting along as a peaceful menagerie, as long as introductions are done very carefully and with the bunny's shy nature in mind.

I hope this helps get you started.  Once you've had a chance to look over the articles above, please write back to me if you have any other questions.