There’s a common myth in the animal world that dogs and cats don’t mix well and are natural enemies. This is especially so with “stubborn” ones, such as French Bulldogs, even though it isn’t that different with other breeds, though some may be more prone to having a friend cat than other breeds.
You want to bring one of these loving French Bulldog pups home, but are worried about how he’ll interact with your family cat (especially an adult that is used to being in charge of the house and hasn’t had much contact with other dogs)? In that case, you’ll want to get all of the information that you can before you bring your snuffly French Bulldog home so that you can make the introduction as comfortable, stress-free, and safe as possible. But what does that even mean?
To answer the question are French Bulldogs good with cats or not, the answer is yes, absolutely! Both French Bulldogs and felines are very adaptable pets. With time, patience, and respect — along with a few tips and a 6-step process as a guideline — you’ll enjoy peace and harmony in your furry family and your human one!
Even if your cat is old and relatively grouchy, sure he has a dog-friendly cat in him and your Frenchie will win him over! French Bulldogs and cats can live happily together. The key is to get the introduction just right from the first meeting. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your feline may just be a hard sell!
Proper Introduction Between Frenchie and Kitty Is Crucial
While mentioned already, it needs to be repeated because it’s going to make or break the relationship in the future between puppy and house cat.
Some kitties are going to be instantly loving of your sweet Frenchie puppy, but most will not be. Cats are fickle creatures — as any cat owner will tell you — at the best of times and bringing a new dog home will not be a welcome sight at first. To all new Frenchie owners, the introduction is the most important step!
This Is Best Understood by Understanding Things From Your Kitty’s Perspective
You’re the queen or king of the house, and everyone loves to snuggle you and give you treats, etc. Then there’s a new loud, rambunctious, in-your-face bundle of wrinkles and fur that doesn’t understand anything.
He’s a threat to your household, but no one else seems to notice. He’s getting all of the attention, and everyone’s forgotten about you. You’re angry and hurt and a little scared because suddenly your family as turned against you and you don’t know why.
Pulls on Your Heartstrings, Right?
And that’s with a scenario where you properly introduce your kitty, slowly and adequately. So imagine a similar situation, now, where puppy and kitty are thrown in the same room, and the kitty is chastised (or worse) when she tries to defend herself.
This is an improper example, and it will lead to bad blood (hopefully figuratively speaking) between French Bulldog and feline, not to mention it can traumatize both pets.
As a responsible and loving pet parent to both, your Frenchie and your family cat, you’ll want to learn the proper steps to introduce your furry members of the family to make it as calm and painless as possible for everyone involved — including you!
Along the way, obedience training can also impact your new pup behavior, if you see fit; the same applies to an adult dog, for instance, since some details may deviate in this process. Professional help can help you throughout the process as well.
The Detailed Step by Step Process of Introducing Your French Bulldog to Your Cat
Learning how to introduce both properly will help you make sure that you are prepared for the first shaky few weeks and that you know what to expect from the entire experience. Here is a step by step process to help you out and also help move at the right pace.
1 – Give Everyone 2–3 Days of Separated Adjustment Time
The early stages of introduction can be a little nerve-wracking. You’re getting used to having a new French Bulldog pup, and you’re also getting used to the new tasks it can bring! Make sure that you give everyone a few days of fully separate time to adjust to these changes.
During these first few days, it’s essential to keep your pup in a different space, so they don’t invade each other’s space, even if you already have other cats or other animals, two animals or more that is, the steps are the same — ideally, a bedroom or den where he feels safe (more on that in a moment) and allow your cat, or cats, to roam as usual.
Be sure to keep the cat’s litter box far from the area you designate for the new pooch.
Both will be interested in checking out the door and sniffing each other through it and feeling each other’s scent, but make sure to give them those initial settle-in days to minimize stress. You can let your cat approach the dog’s door; don’t consider it a problem since he is free to roam as always.
2 – Have Designated Safe Areas for Both Kitty and Pup
Once you’re ready to introduce them to each other for the first time, you’ll want to have designated safe spaces for both your feline and your French Bulldog. Your pup’s area would be the den or bedroom (etc.) that holds his toys, bed, and more.
Your kitty’s space could be a cat tree or even another layer of the house (basement or attic, for instance) depending on their preferences.
These spaces should be only for them. No puppies allowed in your cat’s safe space, and vice versa. As they get used to each other (seeing, smelling, and interacting), they’ll want to retreat to their safe spaces to adjust and recharge. Those spaces should be calm and “safe” from each other. This can be challenging, of course, but you must respect this as much as possible.
3 – Bring Them Together in Stages
Now that you’ve got the designated safe spaces, you’ll want to start setting up the get-togethers. Firstly, just eye contact. Take your cat (holding her securely) to the doorway of your pup’s room and open the door. Someone should hold the puppy, too.
Allow them to see each other and even sniff the air in their general direction, keeping them several feet apart. If your puppy hides or your cat hisses or snarls, close the door and then try again later.
Once you can do this stage successfully, bring them closer together in a “neutral” part of the home. Ideally, keep your French Bulldog pup in a kennel (which can be a comforting space for him) and then allow your kitty to approach him and check him out.
Often, they’ll simply duck close for a whiff and then run away again. The cat may even leave the room and then come back in again a few minutes later. This is fine and normal. Don’t allow your puppy to rush over to play with the cat, and don’t let your cat start hitting or attacking your puppy. The calmer you are, the more relaxed they’ll be, too.
4 – Try Nose to Nose Contact
When you feel both animals are behaving themselves and secure, one family member should pick up each pet and bring them together, slowly increase contact, little by little, starting with nose-to-nose contact. This can also be done on the floor. Just make sure that someone is holding the pup and the cat to keep the meeting controlled as well as a controlled environment.
The event could take seconds, or it could take minutes. It’s crucial to allow both animals to get used to each other’s smell and see that they are not a threat. Sometimes they may lick each other too! Do this a few times until they visibly seem comfortable with one sniffing the other with little to no reaction.
5 – Allow Them to Spend Time Together at Increasing Intervals
Once they’re adjusted initially to each other, you can start allowing them to spend supervised time together. Maybe a few hours in an afternoon, or evenings where everyone is home. The goal is to help your pets get used to each other and see that there is plenty of love to go around.
As a bonus, your cat will see that your new French Bulldog puppy is a great playmate! On the other side, your puppy will see that this big “scary” kitty isn’t so big or “scary” after all.
Do this more and more and adjust the timing so that they are spending more time together than apart. This helps them “remember” that both are there and that it’s no big deal — it normalizes each other’s presence, in other words.
6 – Don’t Leave Them Alone Until You’re Confident There Will Be No Issues
All of these steps above are all focused on supervised visits and meetings. It’s important to always watch both animals every second of a meeting, even when they get used to each other. Sometimes a well-intentioned puppy (or an adult dog) or a protective kitty will wait until their parent’s back is turned and then get aggressive with other animals as they battle for turf.
It’s vital that you never, ever leave your animals, whether if you have other animals or it is just the two of them, alone together until you are absolutely 100% sure that there will be no risk to either of them. A great transition to this, particularly for very worried pet parents, would be to set up a camera and then leave the pets alone in a room and see what happens. Don’t go too far, of course, just into another room and stay quiet.
This will help offer everyone a bit more peace of mind when it comes to potentially leaving your puppy and cat alone together while you are at work or at a friend’s house, running errands or something like that.
That being said, you’ll want to give your puppy time to grow a bit, too, that way he can defend himself if it ever came to it. Also, make sure both of their safe spaces are still accessible so that they can hide from each other.
Even if you’ve done all of that correctly — congratulations! — there are a few more things that you’ll want to keep in mind to minimize jealousy as well as injury between one and the other short- and long-term.
Give Your Cat (and All Other Pets You Already Had) Lots of Attention
Make sure that your kitty (and all other animals that you have) get lots of love and attention and dedicated time with Mom and Dad. You don’t need to spoil them, but just keep parts of your day as normal as possible.
Snuggle time in bed should be their time with you, for example, or chin scratches first thing in the morning, etc. Pick those small things and prioritize them. Your kitty is scared and hurt, and she needs to know that you still love her!
Separate Their Food and Water and Make Sure One Doesn’t Take From the Other
Both during the introduction process as well as later after they adapt to each other, make sure you minimize harm or territorial behavior by separating the cat’s food and water from the dog’s, so eating areas separated, in last resort change them into a different feeding space, like separated rooms. You can also choose different a feeding time for each of them.
Since kitties like to be high-up anyway, put her dishes on top of a tall bookcase or somewhere else where your curious French Bulldog can’t get to them, and try to put them in a nice quiet French Bulldog-free zone. Most cats will lash out to defend their food.
Likewise, don’t let your feline steal your pup’s food or water, either. If you need to take his food up to a proper location, while you’re gone to keep her out of it, then do so. Both must know their food source isn’t under threat as this is often what causes the natural instinct to protect their food, and it can often result, sadly, in some sort of injury.
Remember that this is a natural reaction in animals, and it can’t be broken with punishment or yelling at either animal. This will only make one associate hatred and anger with the other pet, and it can destroy a still-budding friendship.
Some General Tips in Making the Introductions
Throughout the introduction stage (regardless of the step that you are on), here are a few details to help keep you in control of the situation while still making sure that both pets are properly cared for.
Watch the Body Language of BOTH Animals
Pups and cats show different signs of aggression and/or fear. While you may focus your attention on your cat, you’ll also want to pay careful attention to your pup’s warning signals.
Watch the body language of both animals to make sure that there are no warning signs of a potential swat or bite, etc. While tiny and adorable, even a French Bulldog puppy can try to chomp down on your cat. Make sure you always stop aggressive behavior no matter how seemingly innocent (on both sides).
“Bad” Behavior Doesn’t Mean Failure
On that note, if you do notice that your cat and French Bulldog are having some difficulty in adjusting (spitting, lunging, or attacking), don’t take it as a failure.
Remember that both are figuring out each other, and the natural way of things for your other pets and the new one is to assume that the other one is a threat, and they must be dominant. Just like any relationship, it will take its own time to form properly. The “bad” behavior will fade with time.
After a scuffle, however, make sure that you give both animals a few days to cool off from each other so that there is no true hostility formed. Just like quarreling children, give them each a little space and time to cool their jets before trying another supervised hang-out time.
Allow Them to Form Their Own Kind of Relationship
This is important, though often neglected in most guides on pet introductions: your cat and your Frenchie may not be besties. As in, ever. Whatever the natural relationship is that forms – from tolerant to besties and everything in between – don’t force them to be something they’re not.
Just like with kids, you’ve got to allow their relationship to form; however, it is meant to and, while making sure that everyone is safe, just let them be in their natural state.
A Quick Word of Warning About Your Feline and Frenchie
While this is intended to be a general guide to help your French Bulldog and kitty get to know each other properly, not all cats and dogs, in this case French Bulldogs, will necessarily get along.
Just like with us humans, there may be some pairings that just don’t work out even if you do everything right. Most likely, your Frenchie and cat will figure out a relationship that works for them.
They don’t need to be best friends in fact, as for some the natural enemies’ instinct and popular belief they cannot be best friends will dictate their behavior. In most cases, it’ll be French Bulldog and cat ignoring each other. In others, it may be tolerance between the two pets.
Sometimes, however, the initial and protective, aggressive behavior never goes away in your feline. The cat still sees your French Bulldog as an intruder, and neither one is going to be safe or happy until this is dealt with.
In these cases, you can talk to your local vet, consider a trained animal psychology expert, or even consider separating them into different parts of the house permanently. This can be tricky to deal with, and it’s rare that they won’t work something between them, but it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to individual personalities — just like with humans!
Be patient and realistic with your kitty and Frenchie, and the outcome will be well worth your time.