Cats and rabbits have both been domesticated and have been kept as house pets for multiple generations. With their sizes being relatively similar, both mammals are known for their energetic, jumpy, and downright cute behavior. This begs the question, can a cat breed with a rabbit?
No, a cat cannot breed with a rabbit as it is genetically impossible. Rabbits have 44 chromosomes and cats have 38 which means that they cannot produce offspring under normal, natural circumstances.
Continue reading to discover what inquiring minds need to know– are your household pets, particularly your cat (Felis catus) and rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus) capable of mating to create “cabbits”?
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Can Cats Breed With Rabbits?
The short answer is: No, a cat breeding with a rabbit is genetically impossible.
While crossbreeding between certain animals is possible, rabbits and cats are too different on a genetic level to mate and reproduce a hybrid species. Even as science has come a long way and genetic engineering has made what was once impossible in nature possible within the confines of a lab, rabbits have 44 chromosomes, and cats have 38.
This makes cat-rabbit offspring one-hundred-percent impossible.
In 2002, Chinese scientists conducted a scientific experiment in which they attempted to use rabbits as surrogates for panda embryos. Of the 2300 embryos implanted, none resulted in a successful pregnancy.
As a secondary part of the experiment, scientists then impacted panda-rabbit hybrid embryos and cat-rabbit embryos into 21 different cats. Just like in the first portion of the experiment, the embryos were rejected, and none of them resulted in a successful pregnancy.
This successfully highlights the fact that these two species are incapable of breeding with each other even in lab conditions.
Mating Rituals and Reproductive Systems
While cats and rabbits can attempt to mate, it is rare because the species have very different mating rituals. In the wild, cats would naturally be considered predators, and rabbits would be their prey.
Even if the two species did manage to mate, the genetic codes between the sperm and the egg are too different and would give conflicting instructions to the embryo. As a result, the cells would die early.
The reproductive system is also not compatible between the two species. The gestation period in cats is different than in rabbits. Cats have a roughly two-month pregnancy term, and rabbits have a much shorter gestation period at roughly thirty-five days.
Cats and rabbits have vastly different digestive systems, too. Most of these differences are because rabbits are herbivores and cats are carnivores.
Cats have a short gut and cannot digest plant materials. While you may have seen your cat eat grass or munch on household plants, chances are they eventually threw up, or the plants passed through completely undigested.
Rabbits are herbivores and have longer digestive tracts. Their stomachs contain an enzyme that allows them to digest plant cellulose, so by the end of their tract, their stool has been digested twice.
So, to summarize, here are some of the differences between rabbits and cats which is why a cat cannot breed with a rabbit:
|Gestation Period||63-65 days||28-35 days|
Popular “Cabbit” Myths and Claims
The myth of the “cabbit” has been around for centuries, though none of these myths have ever been proven to be true. Cats and rabbits may be of similar size, but they are not compatible on a genetic level and would not be capable of producing offspring together.
Despite this, the appeal of a cabbit has made its way into the media. A cabbit was even a featured character in the Japanese anime and manga series, Tenchi Muyo!
Cabbits were also mentioned in a book by Michael Cabon. No one has been officially credited with the concept of a cabbit, but it has been a popular myth for quite some time, dating back centuries.
Once, for April Fool’s, a paper ran a fake advertisement featuring a tiger-rabbit, but naturally, most people that picked up the paper on April 1st were fully aware it was false and were in on the joke. So, just like humans can’t breed with other animals, a cat and a rabbit seem to fall in a similar accord as well.
The Tale of the Tailless Cat – An Actual Cabbit?
The Manx cat is a breed of domestic cat (Felis cactus) that is born without a tail, or in many cases, these cats will have a significantly shortened tail. The Manx breed, first discovered on the Isle of Man, once even entertained a humorous and scientifically impossible theory that the tailless cat was a result of cats mating with rabbits.
The theory was documented in 1845 by Joseph Train, who claimed that this breed was a result of male buck rabbits cross-mating with female cats. It was eventually crushed once it was discovered that their tails, or lack thereof, are a natural-occurring genetic mutation.
No rabbit genes have ever been identified in a Manx. The Manx-cabbit is nothing but a myth and a fun bit of British folklore.
In most scenarios where people claim to have proof or photographic evidence of some kind of a cabbit, they are related to the tailless Manx cat. In the late 70s and early 80s, “cabbits” made an appearance twice on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” but these were likely Manx cats.
In 2000, the Jet City Maven came clean about a 49-year-old article about a cabbit in Canada that had been picked up and printed in several other publications. In any scenario, there has never been any DNA proof confirming the existence of a cabbit.
The Domestication and Breeding of Cats (and Rabbits!)
Humankind’s fascination and appreciation for animals has been around for nearly as long as mankind itself. Primitive humans studied animals closely and imitated their unique traits.
In ancient times, some animals were worshiped as part of religious sacrifices or considered to be deities or “God-like” with magical powers. One of the most well-known ancient civilizations known to have a deep appreciation of cats was the ancient Egyptians.
Based on archaeological finds and scientific studies of our ancient world, cats are known to be indigenous to Egypt. Exciting new studies and discoveries are being made every day as technology advances and resources improve. Some archaeological discoveries show evidence of early cats in Persia and Nubia.
However, there are no competing theories or evidence to suggest that cats may have originated elsewhere. Ancient Egyptians unleashed cats in their households to eat snakes, mice, and vermin to help protect their home and grain stores, and over time they eventually became domesticated.
The two original cat breeds of ancient Egypt are known to have been the wild cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). As these two breeds became domesticated, they were eventually bred together to form a new species that still exists today, the modern-day Egyptian Mau.
Most living cats all over the world can trace their ancestry back to ancient Egyptian cats and the Egyptian Mau, which is also the Egyptian word for cat. The modern-day domesticated cat has a much different temperament and appearance from its Egyptian ancestors, the wild cats.
Cats today have evolved to be smaller, more colorful, less muscular, and more tolerant of humans, resulting from a change in their domesticated lifestyle versus the wild.
The Evolutionary History of Rabbits
Domestic rabbits are part of the lagomorph family and are descendants of the European hare. Not a lot is known about the origins of lagomorphs, but it is believed that this subspecies originated either in Asia or India.
Today there are 110 known subspecies, of which 42 are rabbit species. If rabbits had any chance of crossbreeding with another species, it would likely be within its subspecies families, such as a hare or a pika. There are also many similarities between rodents and rabbits.
However, the most distinct difference is that rabbits have four incisors, and rodents have only two. Rodents can also be both carnivores and herbivores and have the ability to digest plant material.
Rabbits have been domesticated since the 19th century and similar to cats, can be litter trained. The popularity of keeping rabbits as household pets skyrocketed in the late 1980s, and nowadays are fairly easy to adopt from your local pet store. However, not all veterinarians are familiar with rabbits, and you may need to seek care from exotic pet veterinarians.
Animals That Can Crossbreed
Similar species of animals can hybridize, but it’s not without risks. In most cases, their offspring will be sterile or stillborn.
Popular Species That Have Crossbred
- Cats and Wildcats
- Horses and Donkeys crossbreed to produce Mules
- Zebras and Donkeys
- Wolves and Dogs
- Rat and Mouse
One of the most common crossbreeds is the mule. Bred for the optimal characteristics of both a horse and donkey, they’re exceptional workers, if not stubborn. However, mules can’t produce offspring.
However, before you go out picking an animal for yourself, make sure that are equipped with all the knowledge that you require such as their dietary habits and general demeanor. And, even then, always source responsibly from a legit breeder to avoid any trouble.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Cat Impregnate A Rabbit?
No, a cat cannot impregnate a rabbit. This is because they have an extreme amount of genetic differences and are of different species which leads to them not being able to breed.
Is A Cabbit A Real Animal?
No, a cabbit is not a real animal. Referred to as the offspring of a rabbit and a cat, a cabbit is only mentioned in folktales and rumors and has no place in actual science.
What Does A Cabbit Look Like?
A cabbit will contain some of the features of a cat and a rabbit. While not existing in real life, the species can inherit primary traits from both a cat and a rabbit to form highly energetic, jumpy, and cute offspring!
Conclusion For Can a Cat Breed With a Rabbit?
While the ancestry, evolution, domestication, and even the myths surrounding both cats and rabbits are certainly rich and fascinating facts, both species remain distinctly unique and separate.
One thing’s for sure: we’re certainly not getting any real cabbit offspring anytime soon.
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For more information about Cats and Rabbits, check out the video below: