A cabbit is a fictional hybrid between a cat and a rabbit. They have appeared in fiction and fantasy stories including |Japanese anime and manga, and have also been dubiously purported to have been observed in the wild. Most if not all observations are attributable to either mis-identified Manx cats or outright hoaxes. It is genetically impossible for a cat and a rabbit to produce offspring together.
A cat-rabbit hybrid creature first incorrectly documented by Joseph Train of Castle Douglas, Galloway, Scotland in "An Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man", in which he stated that the local cats were such a hybrid: "My observations on the structure and habits of the specimen in my possession, leave little doubt on my mind of its being a mule, or cross between the female cat and the buck rabbit." Further scientific study has, of course, invalidated his genetically impossible conclusion.
The portmanteau term "cabbit" is used for such imagined hybrids. The exact year of coinage is uncertain. It was used in 1977 to describe a specimen found in New Mexico and exhibited in Los Angeles.[clarification needed]
Manx cats and other cats with tailless or bobtailed mutations account for many alleged cabbit sightings. The mutation that causes taillessness can also cause skeletal and/or nerve abnormalities that result in the cat using a hopping motion. This was once accepted by breeders as a feature of the Manx's look, but is now considered a serious fault in the show-ring and does not form part of the modern Manx standard of points. Modern breeders of the Manx are careful to breed only from cats that have normal locomotion. The relatively long hind legs of the Manx, combined with taillessness or a very short tail, give the impression of a rabbit.
In 1947, Grace Cox-Ife wrote: "There are several points about a Manx that make it anything but ordinary. The chief one is, of course, its taillessness; but this is not quite the whole story. Not only must a Manx have no tail but it should really be a further joint or more short on the spinal column; that is to say there should be a hollow where the tail would normally begin. Then there is the gait – a rabbity hop rather than a walk- which is caused by the height of the hindquarters: according to the Manx Cat Club these "cannot be too high, and the back cannot be too short, while there must be great depth of flank. The head should be round and large, but not of the snubby or Persian type.
In the late 1950s, P. M. Soderbergh wrote: "The normal gait of the Manx is different from that of the ordinary cat, and in some respects is similar to that of the rabbit, but there remains much debate regarding the statement sometimes made that this breed was originally the result of a cross between a rabbit and a cat. That is sheer speculation."[cite this quote] He further observed, "the hind legs are longer than those in front. From this difference in length of leg the peculiar gait of the breed arises, and it is as a result of this that the Manx has been called the ‘Rabbit cat’. On a number of occasions it has been posited that this variety may, in fact, have been first produced by crossing a rabbit with a cat, but any such statements can be regarded as theories only."[cite this quote]
Rose Tenent wrote: "No cat is more fascinating than the tailless Manx, with its rabbit-like hoppity gait [...] . The hind legs are considerably longer than the front ones, thus giving the cat its peculiar hopping gait; incidentally, also the reason for the reasonable theory held in some quarters that the Manx cat is the result of a cross-mating between a cat and a rabbit."
Occasionally the flap of loose skin from the belly to the haunches is absent, enhancing the visual similarity to a rabbit.
Cats with radial hypoplasia (abnormal short forelegs) may also adopt a rabbit-like gait.
The lionhead rabbit has often been mistakenly nicknamed a "cabbit" as it resembles a mixture of a rabbit and a cat. Many lionhead breeders spuriously call them "cabbits", contributing to the already significant misinformation concerning the "cabbit".
- Train, Joseph (1845). An Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man, from the Earliest Times to the Present Date; with a View of its Ancient Laws, Peculiar Customs, and Popular Superstitions.
- Sarah Hartwell. "Cabbits - Why Cats Can't Breed With Rabbits". 2005.
- Cox-Ife, Grace. Questions Answered About Cats. London, England: Jordan & Sons. Text "year-1948" ignored (help)
- Tenent, Rose (1955). Pedigree Cats. London, England: Crosby Lockwood & Sons.