Are Rabbits Related to Cats? Here Are the Facts!

Rabbits are irresistibly charming and huggable. Their cuteness and sociable personality will certainly melt your heart, making you want to own one of them.

Cats, meanwhile, are known for their independent personality and sophisticated character. This will make you think they can be perfect for your busy schedule as they can be low maintenance.

At some point, they have similarities in their physical characteristics.

Have you ever wondered if they can be actually related to each other?

Are Rabbits Related To Cats?

No. Rabbits are not related to cats as they belong to a different order and family. Rabbits are part of Order Lagomorpha, specifically Family Leporidae, while cats belong to Order Carnivora, particularly Family Felidae.

Looking at rabbits and cats, you might wonder if they are somewhat related because they got some physical similarities like their soft, fluffy hair and charming paws.

But, no. Genetically speaking, they are simply different from one another.

Rabbits are part of Family Leporidae under the Order Lagomorpha.

Lagomorpha is an order of small to medium-sized terrestrial animals that look very much the same as rodents. They are characterized by having large ears, having fur on the bottoms of their feet, and short tails. They do not own canine teeth, have four upper incisors, and have a single layer of enamel in their front incisors

Lagomorpha is divided into two families – Leporidae and Ochotonidae. Rabbits and hares belong to Leporidae while Ochotonidae is composed of pikas.

Cats, on the other side, are part of Family Felidae under Order Carnivora.

Carnivora is an order of mammals that are eating flesh as part of their main diet. However, you might be fascinated to know that not all of them are carnivorous. Some of their members are omnivores while some are solely vegetarian.

These mammals are characterized as medium-sized, have an upper fourth premolar and a lower first molar known as carnassials, and also own thick, luxurious coats.

They are usually terrestrial species living in forests, mountains, deserts, or even on open ice. They can be aquatic and semi-aquatic too, living in open oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Under Carnivora, cats are members of Family Felidae.

Felidae have 37 species of cats including lion, tiger, jaguar, cheetah, and domestic cat, to name a few.

rabbit-cats

Differences Between Rabbits And Cats

Rabbits and cats have differences when it comes to their diet, predation, behavior, physical capabilities, gestation, and life span.

The first major difference between rabbits and cats is their diet. Rabbits are herbivores while cats are obligate carnivores.

Rabbits are primarily eating plant-based foods such as hay and leafy vegetables. Your pet rabbits at home also have commercial foods like pellets that provide them additional nutrients and energy.

As for cats, they are “obligate” carnivores. This means that even how hard you try changing the diet of your domestic cat, like turning it into a vegan, it will not work. This is simply because eating meat is an imperative biological requirement to ensure its good health.

Certainly, cats can eat vegetables, fruits, and manufactured food if they want to. But, they cannot let go of consuming flesh as it is part of their nutrition.

Another difference between rabbits and cats is related to predation. Rabbits are prey animals while cats are predator animals.

In the food chain, prey animals are the ones being hunted by the predators as their food. Preys are usually running to survive; they are characterized as vulnerable and docile, unlike predators that are aggressive and ready to hunt any moment.

The behaviors of rabbits and cats are not alike as well. Rabbits are greatly in need of companionship while cats can live independently on their own.

Rabbits are highly sociable animals that usually form great bonds with their buddies since they are used to living in groups called colonies.

They need others to have a happy life. Without companions, they will simply get depressed.

Cats, on the other hand, are solitary by nature.

Although they can show exceptional affection, they can survive without companionship. Being part of the Family Felidae, they are not used in dwelling in socially formed groups.

The physical capabilities of rabbits and cats differ too when it comes to jumping, running, and eyesight.

Rabbits can jump, of course, but not as high as cats can.

To be fair, rabbits can run faster than cats. If a rabbit is being hunted by a predator, it can run from 25 miles to 45 miles per hour. On average, a domesticated cat can run 30 miles per hour only at maximum.

Another advantage of rabbits is having a set of eyes that they can rotate 360 degrees. A cat’s peripheral vision is limited only so they need to turn their heads to see their surroundings, just like humans.

Rabbits and cats are not similar when it comes to gestation too.

Pregnancy among rabbits usually takes 30 days to 32 days.

If you have a pregnant cat, you need to wait longer compared to a pregnant rabbit. Cats have a longer gestation period, taking 58 days to 67 days before giving birth.

If cats have a longer gestation period, it has a longer lifespan than rabbits as well.

Typically, cats can live up to 20 years while rabbits’ average life span is approximately just between 7 years to 9 years, depending on breed.

Below is a simple table showing the difference of rabbits and cats:

DifferencesRabbitsCats
DietHerbivoresObligate Carnivores
PredationPrey animalsPredator animals
BehaviorSociable and needs companionshipSolitary and independent
Physical CapabilitiesCan run faster than cats; eyes can rotate 360 degreesCan jump higher than rabbits; cannot rotate eyesight in 360 degrees, has limited peripheral vision
Gestation20 to 32 days58 to 67 days
Life Span7 to 9 years20 years

Similarities Between Rabbits And Cats

Rabbits and cats are similar when it comes to hygiene, activity, and sleeping behavior.

One pleasing similarity between rabbits and cats that makes their owners even adore them is their approach to hygiene.

Both of them can groom themselves. They know how to clean themselves and they don’t need to be showered frequently like other animals.

They can be both litter-trained as the predisposition of cleanliness is rooted in them. They will not make your house messy and smelly once they are trained.

The activities that both rabbits and cats need are pretty much similar as well.

Unlike dogs, you will usually not take your rabbits or cats with you or whenever you are going out. You will not typically walk with them on a leash in the morning or bring them to an outdoor activity.

They are simply “non-traveling” pets that would prefer staying at home. Your house is big enough for them to play around.

Toys are enough to get rabbits and cats stimulated and not feel bored. They tend to get stressed if they are being relocated frequently or going to different places.

The sleeping behavior of these two mammals is similar as well.

They are both crepuscular which means their most active hours happen at dawn and dusk. This is the reason why you can always see them sleep all day; making you think they doze too much.

Prey like rabbits to predators like cats are simply taking advantage of the period when it is coldest, especially if they are living in desert places.

How Closely Are Rabbits And Cats Related?

Rabbits and cats are closely related when it comes to their Phylum, Subphylum, and Class in the Animal Kingdom. They are both parts of Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, and Class Mammalia.

Both rabbits and cats belong to the Animal Kingdom (Kingdom Animalia or Metazoa).

This kingdom contains over two million species of animals. They are characterized as multicellular and composed of cells that do not possess cell walls.

These animals also get their energy through consuming other organisms or breaking down organic substances. They commonly propagate sexually as well.

True enough, rabbits and cats possess the same eating behavior and can definitely reproduce.

Under the Animal Kingdom, rabbits and cats also belong to the same Phylum which is Chordata.

Phylum Chordata is composed of animals with backbones (vertebrates) and with no backbones (invertebrates).

Phylum Chordata has three Subphyla – Urochordata, Cephalochordata, and Vertebrata. Both rabbits and cats belong to Subphylum Vertebrata that is characterized by having an inner skeleton or bones that provide structure and strength to the animals’ bodies.

Subphylum Vertebrata is divided into seven classes. One is Class Mammalia where rabbits and cats belong.

Class Mammalia is composed of animals giving live birth to their offsprings and nourishing them with their mothers’ milk produced from the special mammary glands.

After the mammal ancestors, rabbits and cats are no longer related to each other.

Interestingly, after some genetic studies, rabbits are believed to be more related to rodents and even humans than to cats.

As for cats, they are more closely related to hedgehogs, bears, bats, horses, seals, and whales than rabbits.

Are Rabbits And Cats In The Same Family?

No. Rabbits and cats do not belong in a similar family. Rabbits are part of the Family Leporidae while cats are members of Family Felidae.

Rabbits are part of Family Leporidae which is primarily composed of hares and rabbits.

Leporids are commonly found in different environments. They can adapt in frosty woodlands to humidly open deserts.

They can grow from 1.5 centimeters to 12 centimeters. Most of them are also polygynandrous where both males and females have multiple mating partners during their mating season.

Members of the Leporidae are known to be adapting a reproductive method called “absentee parentism”. Typically, mothers are nursing their young for a limited time only – once every 24 hours which usually takes 5 minutes or less.

Predation is also a part of leporids’ daily lives. They encounter constant threats to their safety from predators.

Meanwhile, cats belong to a different family which is Felidae.

Felidae is a family of mammals and is commonly known as cats. It has a recognized 18 genera and 36 species. They can be found anywhere excluding Antarctica and Australia.

Most felids are highly proficient when it comes to climbing and swimming, except for the largest cats.

They commonly weigh from 2 kilograms to 300 kilograms. Sexual dimorphism is displayed among Felids where males are typically larger and more powerful compared to their female counterparts.

Felids are solitary by nature. They are marking their territories by scent through facial glands and urine.

 They are divided into two subgroups – large cats and small cats. Small cats are commonly those that cannot loudly and aggressively roar.

Being carnivores, felids are highly specialized hunters that will not hesitate to hunt animals even as large as themselves.

Are Rabbits A Type Of Cat?

No. Rabbits are simply not a type of cat as it is a member of a different family.

Rabbits are commonly little mammals with fluffy hair, whiskers, long ears, and short tails. The American Rabbit Breeders Association acknowledges 49 breeds of rabbits that come in different colors, sizes, and behaviors.

Being in a part of the Leporidae family, rabbits are herbivores and are prey animals.

In contrast, cats are members of the Felidae family which are known to be obligate carnivores and predator animals.

Why Do Cats And Rabbits Have The Same Feet?

Cats and rabbits have the same feet which they used for running, jumping, and kicking.

Cats and rabbits have resembling paws that are suitable for running and jumping.

Cats can jump higher but rabbits can run faster.

Rabbits can run very fast as it is their defense mechanism from predators ready to attack them.

Kicking is also another strategy of survival for both rabbits and cats.

Is A Cat A Descendant Of Rabbits?

No. A cat is simply not a descendant of rabbits.

Cats have their own ancestors as they are not closely related to rabbits. Both indeed share a common mammal ancestor, but this reality is not greatly impacting the lineage of one another.

Domestic cats are descendants of a Middle Eastern wildcat. Cats were started to become domesticated animals around 12,000 years ago in the Near East.

Can A Rabbit Impregnate A Cat?

No. A rabbit cannot impregnate a cat as they are not closely related species that can hybridize.

It is possible to cross-breed animals, of course. However, to successfully do this, animals to hybridize should be related to each other. For instance, you can breed a wolf to a dog and a donkey to a horse.

Rabbits and cats are simply far from being in the same family so interspecies breeding between them is genetically unlikely.

They are carrying genes that have varying structures such as a medium-size stomach for carnivores like cats and a large stomach for herbivores like rabbits.

Many are claiming that they saw or own a “cabbit” which is a proclaimed cross-breed of cats and rabbits.

However, the only way to prove it is through a verified DNA of that hybrid animal.

Did Rabbits Evolve From Cats?

No. Rabbits did not evolve from cats as they have different ancestors that can closely resemble their physical features.

Just recently, a species called Amphilagus tomidai was discovered which is said to be the ancestor of the rabbits today. It lived in Siberia about 14 million years ago.

There were also bones discovered in Gujarat, India which are believed to be tiny foot bones of rabbit ancestors who lived 53 million years ago.

The bones belonging to the Lagomorpha are said to be smaller than the regular bunny, probably the same size as a hamster.

Why Do Cats Look Like Rabbits?

Cats that look like rabbits are called Manx, a cat breed that resembles some physical features of rabbits.

Manx is the only breed of cat that can have no tail, though some of them can be not tail-free. The tail-free trait is induced by a genetic mutation.

This makes them look like bunnies in addition to their fluffy coat.

It is one of the oldest breeds of cats that has a round head, round pair of eyes, wide chest, sturdy physique, and round back as well.

Manx can also resemble rabbits in some way as its front legs are shorter compared to its back legs.

References:

Bradshaw, J. W., Goodwin, D., Legrand-Defr├ętin, V., & Nott, H. M. (1996). Food selection by the domestic cat, an obligate carnivore. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology, 114(3), 205-209. https://doi.org/10.1016/0300-9629(95)02133-7

Dewey, T. A. (2021). Animalia. Biology Reference. https://www.biologyreference.com/A-Ar/Animalia.html

International Cat Care. (2019, October 7). Thinking of getting a cat? International Cat Care | The ultimate resource on feline health and welfare. https://icatcare.org/advice/thinking-of-getting-a-cat/

Meyers, P., & Sorin, A. (2002). Lagomorpha (hares, pikas, and rabbits). Animal Diversity Web. https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lagomorpha/

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Washington State University. (2018, December 26). Can you tell me about bunnies? Ask Dr. Universe. https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/12/26/can-tell-bunnies/