Last Updated on December 9, 2022 by Rei Garnet
One of the most common animals to be paired with rabbits are cats. If I didn’t have a mild cat allergy, I would probably get one.
Knowing my two rabbits, who would munch on anything from furniture to wires, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would eat a cat food if left alone.
In fact, while doing my research for this article, I was surprised by how many owners reported that their rabbit is eating cat food.
So to answer the question, yes, rabbits will eat cat food if left unattended. Make sure that if you have any cats in the house, their cat food is placed somewhere high where a rabbit wouldn’t be able to reach.
Feeding cat food to your rabbits is bad in the long run because their gut is not designed to digest meat.
Additionally, cat foods are high in carbohydrates. Carbs is bad for rabbits in large amounts and can cause GI stasis and other digestive issues.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why a rabbit would eat cat food:
Will rabbits willingly eat cat food?
Rabbits love to eat anything they can, including foods that are bad for them. That’s why rabbit owners coined the term “bunny proof” your house before getting one.
Bunny proofing means protecting your house from those tiny little rabbit teeth. Rabbits will eat anything they can, including wires, furniture, and if you have another pet, a cat, for instance, it’s cat food.
That’s why when you are planning to get a cat as an additional pet, you will also have to make sure that your cat’s food is not accessible to your rabbits.
You can place your cat’s bowl on higher ground so that your rabbits can’t reach it. Because cats are able to move to higher places, they shouldn’t have a problem reaching the bowl.
Will rabbits eat dry cat food?
Dry cat food is more likely to be eaten by rabbits than wet cat food because rabbits are used to eating dry foods like hay and pellets.
It’s okay if your rabbit accidentally eats small amounts of dry cat food. Just observe your rabbit for any behavioral changes or changes in their stool. But if you did notice a change, a trip to a veterinarian wouldn’t hurt just to be sure.
As long as their diet mostly consists of fiber, like hay, it should be fine.
Will rabbits eat wet cat food?
Although less likely compared to dry cat food, rabbits can still eat wet cat food if your rabbit is curious and likes to munch on everything.
Even though your rabbit would eat a portion of wet cat food, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Cat food is for animals that are carnivores, like cats.
Feeding your rabbit wet cat food can cause digestive distress that could lead to a trip to the veterinarian. But if your rabbit only ate a little bit of wet cat food by accident, don’t worry too much and just observe any changes in their behavior and stool.
Can cat food kill a rabbit?
Rabbits are herbivores, meaning their gut is designed to digest plant-based food. While cat food is mostly meat by-products.
It’s okay for a rabbit to eat small amounts of meat because wild rabbits do it all the time. Wild rabbits would sometimes accidentally (or intentionally) eat their newborn babies.
Wild rabbits would also eat their placenta to prevent having a lump of rotting meat in their nest that could invite predators or cause diseases.
The problem would most likely start happening if your rabbit ate large amounts of meat in lieu of fiber (hay).
Rabbits that have eaten large amounts of cat food can develop GI stasis, or the slowing of the passage of food.
GI stasis is caused by a bad diet or feeding large amounts of carbohydrates and small amounts of fiber, which is the most important part of a rabbit’s diet.
GI stasis would eventually lead to organ failure and death if left untreated.
If your rabbit ingested large amounts of cat food, immediately remove the cat food out of your rabbit’s reach and provide large amounts of hay. Hay would help move your rabbit’s gut, which hopefully lessens the danger of ingesting cat food.
But to be sure, get your rabbit checked out by a veterinarian when you notice any changes in your rabbit’s behavior or changes in their stool.
What will happen if a rabbit eats cat food?
Rabbits eating cat food could cause all sorts of digestive problems. The most common are diarrhea, uneaten caecotrophs, and the most dangerous — gastrointestinal stasis.
Cat food, being high in carbs and designed for carnivores, could lead to GI stasis. GI stasis, or the slowing of the passage of food, is caused by an imbalance in your rabbit’s gut flora, which could cause painful gas.
This painful gas would eventually lead to a decreased appetite and eventually not eating anything at all. GI stasis could eventually lead to organ failure and death.
So make sure that if your rabbit ingests large amounts of cat food and you notice any odd behavior or changes in their stool, you immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.
Risk of feeding cat food to rabbits
For a rabbit to be healthy, their diet should mostly consist of hay and some veggies. A rabbit’s gut is really sensitive, and the wrong food can cost them their lives.
That’s why we, as rabbit owners, need to know the risk associated with our rabbits’ being fed the wrong diet.
Here are the risks when you feed or overfeed cat food to your rabbit:
Gastrointestinal stasis happens when a rabbit is eating the wrong diet and has high amounts of carbs.
When your rabbit eats large amounts of cat food, their gut flora’s balance could be disturbed, slowing down the passage of food in their stomach.
If you notice any signs of GI stasis, bring your rabbit to a veterinarian without hesitation. GI stasis will lead to organ failure and death if not treated immediately.
Diarrhea is also possible when a rabbit ingests large amounts of cat food. One of the major causes of diarrhea in rabbits is an incorrect diet.
Diarrhea is life-threatening to rabbits if not managed properly. Make sure that you bring your rabbit to a veterinarian when you notice stool changes and a lack of energy.
Another risk associated with eating the wrong diet or when your rabbit ingests large amounts of cat food is uneaten caecotrophs.
Usually, uneaten cecotropes happen when a rabbit eats too little hay and too many pellets. This could also happen if their diet has a lot of calcium, which cat food has.
Rabbits will eat cat food if you leave it where a rabbit can reach it. You should never let your rabbit eat cat food because your rabbit’s digestive system is not designed to digest the food that’s made for carnivores.
Ingesting small amounts of cat food is not usually a concern. Large amounts of cat food can cause digestive distress like GI stasis, diarrhea, and uneaten cecotropes.
If your rabbit develops any digestive distress due to eating cat food, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian. Digestive issues like diarrhea and GI stasis can lead to organ failure and death if not treated.
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