Are Rabbits Related to Cats? [Detailed Guide]

No, Rabbits and cats are not related. In terms of DNA, they both belong to totally different classes of animals these are called Mammalia. There are also different orders called Lagomorpha (Rabbits) and Carnivora (Cats). Rabbits and cats are classified based on a hierarchy of characteristics. These are split into different groups. The broadest is known as kingdom whilst the more specific groups are called phylum, class order, family, genus, and species.

are rabbits and cats related

At the class level mammals are usually characterized by features such as hair, bones, and mammary glands its quite clear that Lagomorpha and Carnivora have different characteristics.

At the order level, Lagomorphas are identified by their teeth designed for gnawing, the shape of their skull, and the shape of their upper lips. They also have a relatively complex digestive system that allows them to digest hardy plant material. In most cases, their hind legs are longer than their front legs. Whilst on the other hand Carnivora are identified by their sharp pointy teeth and claws which are designed for hunting and eating meat. Their digestive systems are simplistic in comparison and their front legs are longer than their hind legs.

Why Rabbits and Cats Are Not Related (DNA)

The genetic makeup of rabbits and cats further proves the fact that these animals are not related. They have a different about of chromosomes. Cats have 38-40 Chromosomes whilst rabbits have 44. Not only are the number of chromosomes different but the genetic structure and makeup are quite different as each chromosome contains a specific set of genes.

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They really are separate branches on the tree of life.

Which Animals Are Closely Related to Rabbits?

Rabbits are closely related to hares genetically as they belong to the same Leporidae family. They share many similar characteristics mainly ears, teeth, and leg structure. They both also have six pairs of chromosomes which is the obvious key similarity.

Another lesser-known animal called a Pika also belongs to the Lagomorpha order and owns a similar number of chromosomes. Rodents like mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs belong to the order Rodentia but have some similarities with rabbits and hares.

are rabbits and cats related 2

With all this said and done it’s worth noting that all mammals share many similarities in their genetic makeup and we all share some form of common ancestry. This can be in the number of chromosomes to the types of genes found in all mammals.

It’s also worth noting that the similarity in the number of chromosomes, or karyotype, does not always indicate a close relationship, as it could be the result of convergent evolution.

Which Animals Did Rabbits Evolve From?

Rabbits have many ancestors from the Zalambdalestids an extinct central Asian group of mammals that existed around 85 million years old to the species Amphilagus Tomidai which was recently discovered as an ancestor of the rabbit which is said to have lived in Siberia around 14 million years ago.

These ancestors had many of the characteristics we see in modern rabbits, such as strong hind legs and long ears. Over time, these characteristics became more pronounced as the rabbits evolved to be faster and more efficient at running and escaping predators.

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This topic is a huge one and deserves its own article so we will just cover some of the fun ones for now.


The article has discussed the differences between rabbits and cats, and why they are not related. It has also looked at which animals are most closely related to rabbits and their evolution from ancestors such as the Zalambdalestids. Scientific evidence such as chromosomal comparison has further proven the fact that rabbits and cats are indeed different species.