What Happens If a Rabbit Eats Cat Food?

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Rabbits are herbivores, their digestive systems are not built to process protein found in cat food.
Rabbits are herbivores, their digestive systems are not built to process protein found in cat food. (Image: Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images)

It is a common occurrence for pet rabbits that share a home with a pet cat to eat cat food while they are out of their cage for exercise. While it's not deadly for a pet rabbit to taste cat's food, it should be avoided, as the prolonged consumption of cat food is eventually harmful for the rabbit. There are several simple solutions to stop your rabbit from snacking on your cat's food.

Cat Food vs. Rabbit Food

An important difference between cat food and rabbit food is the nutritional components each is made of. Cat food contains high amounts of protein, fats and carbohydrates. This is because cats are carnivores and require a high protein diet. Rabbit food, alternatively, contains only vegetable matter because rabbits are herbivores. The digestive system of a rabbit is not made to handle protein and fat; if a rabbit eats a lot of these, it could harm its kidneys and intestines. If you think your rabbit has eaten more than just a few bits of cat food, it is best to take him to the vet for a quick check up.

Preventing Your Rabbit From Eating Cat Food

Cat food is usually left in a bowl on the floor and is easily accessible for the rabbit to snack on. Put the cat food in a place that the rabbit can't reach when he is out of his cage, but that your cat can still access. This could simply be on a chair or bench, or in another room the rabbit can't get to. An alternative is to buy a toddler fence and block off access to the cat food bowl.

Suggested Food For Rabbits

Rabbits are herbivores and their diets should contain vegetable matter only. Two main sources of nutrients for pet rabbits are timothy hay and alfalfa pellets, both available at pet stores. Pet rabbit owners also feed their rabbits carrots, celery, broccoli and tomatoes. Some argue that a diet of fresh vegetables is even better for a pet rabbit than a diet consisting of only store-bought rabbit food.

Safe Treats For Rabbits

Small amounts of fruit are considered acceptable treats for rabbits. Even if your rabbit seems to like cat food, do not give it to him, even as a treat; choose fresh fruit instead. A rabbit can have one serving a day of 2 tbsp. of a wide variety of fruits, such as apples, apricots, bananas, peaches, plums and berries.

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