Chicago's no-kill shelter for cats, rabbits and dogs


Whether you are a beginner seeking guidance on how to care for your new pet rabbit or an experienced owner looking for tips and advice, we have you covered.

Rabbits can live long, happy lives with proper care and attention, and we hope this FAQ will serve as a valuable resource to help you provide the best possible care for your furry friend. So let’s hop right in and explore the world of rabbit care together!

If you originally adopted the dog, cat or rabbit from Red Door, we will take the pet back. Please try to give us notice that you need to return your adopted animal.

But if the animal was not adopted from Red Door, then no, Red Door does not accept animals brought to the door for surrender. Because we are a no-kill shelter, we must maintain room for all the animals currently living at the shelter. Therefore, we request you email us at with information and a photo of the pet you want to surrender. We can email you with information on how long the wait might be and we can also give you some other possibilities. You should read our “Thinking of Giving Up Your Pet?” article.

Also, please remember that if you adopted an animal from a shelter, your adoption contract usually requires that you return the animal to that shelter. Red Door will always accept back any animal we have adopted out.

To absorb urine and odors, line the bottom of the box with 1-2″ of a rabbit-safe litter listed below. Put a large handful of Timothy hay on one side of the box and refresh the hay daily. This will encourage your bunny to eat and do his business at the same time.

Safe Litters:
Feline or Equine Pine, Wood fuel pellets, Critter Country, Oxbow Eco-straw, Yesterday’s News, PaPurr or Carefresh, Plain newspapers

Unsafe Litters:
Clay or clumping cat litter (can cause blockages)
Pine or Cedar shavings (liver and respiratory damage)
Oat/Alfalfa based litters (can cause weight gain)
Corn cob litters or sWheat Scoop (can cause blockages)

It’s important to clean your rabbit’s enclosure at least once a week, removing soiled bedding and ensuring a clean and hygienic living space. The litter box in particular should be cleaned every 2-3 days depending on the size of your rabbit. Wipe down with a 1:10 vinegar and water solution and rinse with hot water. NEVER use household cleaners such as bleach or detergent, as they are toxic to rabbits.

Grooming needs vary depending on the rabbit’s coat type. Your rabbits will shed every 3 months with the change of seasons, alternating between heavy and light fur loss. They will be constantly grooming, and ingesting fur. But rabbits do not have a vomit reflex and cannot cough up fur balls like cats do. Therefore it’s your job to brush your bunny weekly – or daily if they are shedding or have angora fur, which can easily tangle into painful mats. Due to the delicate nature of rabbit skin, use extreme caution if you must use scissors to remove mats. Serious matting must be shaved off by an exotic vet. 

Never give your rabbit a bath! Giving a bunny a bath in water can be extremely stressful and could lead to shock or hypothermia. If necessary, use a wet washcloth to spot clean your rabbit. Do not use any human shampoo or “bunny shampoo” that you see at the pet store. These could be toxic. 

We host quarterly Spa-Di-Da-Days every January, April, July, and October to coincide with shedding seasons. We offer grooming, nails trims, ear cleaning, scent gland cleaning and our fun-themed photos (check out our instagram). If you can’t make it to a spa day, nail trims and ear cleaning can also be done by appointment. Please call the shelter to check availability: 773-764-2242.

Rabbits are very social creatures and are usually happier and healthier with a bunny companion. A bonded pair of rabbits can entertain and comfort each other during the day, while you are at work. If you are considering a friend for your bunny, be aware that it is up to your rabbit to choose their mate, not you. Like humans, rabbits are very particular about who they associate with.

At Red Door, we specialize in bunny bondings by using the “speed-dating” method. We will introduce your bunny to all available rabbits and observe their interactions to give you our best recommendations for a companion. Keep in mind that the bonding process does take patience and time- anywhere from 2 days to 2 months. Your Red Door bonding counselor will offer advice, as well as tips and tricks to get them together

Red Door offers rabbit boarding at the shelter! While you are away, you can trust your bunny’s care to our rabbit-savvy staff. Your rabbit will receive hands-on, experienced care in a rabbit-friendly environment. Make sure to ask about our grooming services. For more information, check out the Hare BnB.

Spaying or neutering your rabbit is highly recommended. It helps prevent certain health issues, reduces aggressive behavior, and minimizes the risk of reproductive diseases. Neutered males are less likely to display marking behaviors, making them easier to litter box train, and spayed females  greatly reduce their risk of cancer. Prior to adoption, all Red Door animals are spayed/neutered.

Dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, and flystrike are common health concerns in rabbits. Regular veterinary check-ups and a balanced diet can help prevent these problems. Although RHDV2 has not been found in Illinois (as of 2022), the virus has killed pet and wild rabbits in 15 states so far. Vaccines to prevent RHDV2 are available at exotic vets, and all Red Door rabbits are now being vaccinated against RHDV2 before adoption. Red Door rabbits are vet-checked, and adopters get a complete copy of all medical records. 

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