TikTok vet highlights plight of pet rabbits in the UK

A vet has urged Britons to “do better” by their pet rabbits during Rabbit Awareness Week.

The veterinary surgeon, who goes by Cat the Vet on her social media pages, posted a video on her TikTok listing facts about pet rabbits that owners should be aware of.

She said that many rabbit owners are “not looking after” their small mammals well enough.

Cat began her video by saying: “There are nearly one million rabbits being kept as pets in the UK, but actually we are not looking after them well at all.”

Citing figures from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ (PDSA) Paw Report 2022 and Vet Compass, Cat said that half of all rabbits in the UK live alone.

She added: “For an incredibly social creature, [it’s] absolute torture.”

According to the PDSA’s report, more than 460,000 rabbits live “a lonely existence without the companionship their highly-social species requires”.

Senior rabbits aged five years and older are more likely to be kept alone compared to those aged between two to four years old or junior rabbits aged up to one year old.

The professional vet also said that “nearly 40 per cent of rabbits in the UK aren’t neutered, which can have horrible consequences for their health”.

“For example, did you know that 80 per cent of girl [sic] rabbits will get cancer in their uterus if they are not spayed?” Cat said, adding: “And it makes them more challenging pets, harder to bond with each other, more likely to fight and definitely more difficult to handle.”

The most common reason owners gave the PDSA for not neutering their rabbits was that they live alone and they were worried about their pet’s reaction to anaesthetic.

Cat’s third fact was the 50 per cent of pet rabbits in the UK are not vaccinated.

“[This] not only leaves them vulnerable to disease, it probably means they’re missing out on vital veterinary checks as well,” she said.

Lastly, Cat said: “Overall, the average lifespan for rabbits in this country is only just over four years, which, for a creature that can easily get to double figures if they’re well cared for, is just tragic.”

She ended her video by saying: “We are letting our beautiful bunnies down and we must do better.”

Rabbit Awareness Week took place between 27 June to 1 July, but Cat’s video resonated with many of her followers.

“So appreciate this,” one person wrote: “Just adopted a three-month-old English lop buck and want him to have the best care.”

Another said: “We adopted two rabbits from the RSPCA and would do the same again. Bonded and neutered with plenty of guidance! So many are not cared for correctly.”

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