Fighting Like Cats and Dogs?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs” and wondered, are French Bulldogs good with cats?! It’s a common misconception that cats and dogs are natural enemies. While every animal is different, there should be no reason why your French Bulldog can’t be best friends with a cat!
It’s in dogs’ nature to want to chase cats; they are natural predators that love chasing things smaller than them. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes cats. Dogs inherited this prey drive from their wolf ancestors and despite being domesticated over 12,000 years ago, they still have this instinct ingrained in their behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs can actually be best friends! With a little bit of forethought and patience, your French Bulldog is sure to do great around cats. It’s completely normal for your French Bulldog to want to chase a cat if they’ve never been around any cats before. Be patient and don’t get frustrated with this; it’s just part of their nature.
Why should I be concerned?
Even if your Frenchie is the most loving, timid dog in the world that wouldn’t hurt a fly, you should still keep a few things in mind. Introducing your French Bulldog to a cat can quickly go south if you aren’t well-prepared.
A large part of communication in both humans and animals is body language. Unlike us humans, animals obviously cannot verbally communicate; their body language is their only method of communication. It’s important that you understand cats and dogs interpret each other’s body language differently.
Confusion over body language
For example, a dog may raise its paw to the cat to signal it wants to play, however, the cat might interpret this as a form of aggression and attack the dog. Another example is that cats often rub up against people or dogs to be friendly, but your dog might take this gesture as a threat.
Cats and dogs don’t speak the same language and often misjudge the other’s true intentions. This is why it’s so important that you are always supervising them until you are completely confident that they won’t harm each other.
An overexcited Frenchie can seriously injure or even kill a cat. French Bulldogs are known for roughhousing with each other; they might not understand that cats can’t play the same way.
Cats can also seriously hurt a Frenchie with just one scratch. Because of Frenchies’ flat faces and bulging eyes, it’s not hard for a scratch to take out an eye! They don’t have long noses to protect their eyes! Be extra precautious if the cat is known for swiping at things.
Before they meet
If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to do some obedience training with your Frenchie. It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the basics either. You want your Frenchie to be able to respond and behave in any situation to reduce the risk of injury.
Have realistic expectations for the first few meetings. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t immediately “click” their first time seeing each other. Just like us humans, it takes time for pets to develop a friendship. Be patient.
Picking the proper location for your pets to meet for their first time is crucial. You’re going to want a calm, controlled environment. You don’t want there to be any other animals around. Just your cat and dog.
Some ideas for places they can meet are
- A friend’s house that owns a dog-friendly cat
How to Introduce your French Bulldog to a Cat
Slow down! The last thing you want to do when introducing your French Bulldog to any cat is to immediately place them a room together with no rules!
Keep the two separated at first; let them adjust to their new environment. A good tip is to place each animal’s belongings in the other’s space so they can get used to each other’s scents. Let both of them have a few days to get comfortable being around the other’s scent.
Once you have the cat and dog going about their own business, as usual, they are ready for their first meeting.
The first meeting
The first meeting should be brief. Around ten minutes is a good guideline. You’re going to want to keep your Frenchie secure on its leash and let the cat approach when it feels comfortable.
Reward your dog for calm behavior with praise and treats. Your meetings should be similar to the first one until your Frenchie has calmed down and is ignoring the cat. Your cat will be comfortable when it is calm, eating and using its litter box as it does normally.
If you feel things are getting out of hand, separate them immediately.
As things go on
You can slowly increase the amount of time they spend together over time. Keep in mind that it can take weeks or months for the two to be completely comfortable with each other’s presence.
If you notice any signs of aggression or anxiety from either animal, stop the meeting immediately and reduce the duration of the next meeting.
Once your Frenchie has calmed down and you are comfortable with the two being around each other, you’re going to want to let him walk around freely. Keep the leash on just in case, but keep it loose enough so he can move as he wishes.
Tips for Introducing your French Bulldog to a Cat
Keep them separated at mealtimes
This should be a no-brainer. Not only are some dogs territorial over their food, they might also eat the cat’s food and get sick. They need to learn to respect each other’s boundaries; it’s not a free-for-all.
Never leave them alone unsupervised
This is especially important in the early phases of their friendship. You never know when things may go wrong; it just takes one accident.
Even if you’re going to use the bathroom for less than a minute, make sure you either put your Frenchie in its crate or move the cat to another room. When you’re completely confident that the two can get along with no problems, you’ll be able to leave them alone.
Exercise and walks to tire out your Frenchie
Before your Frenchie and cat meet, it is always a great idea to go for a walk or play fetch to tucker him out. If your Frenchie has been laying around sleeping all day, he’s much more likely to get over excited when he sees the cat.
Always use a leash in case things get out of hand
When you’re first starting out, keeping your Frenchie on a leash is a must. It gives you complete control over the situation and lets you stop things the moment they get out of hand.
You don’t want to be scrambling to grab your Frenchie off the cat; the damage will already be done.
Reward calm behavior
Positive reinforcement is much better than yelling and reprimanding your dog. If you give tons of praise and treats when your Frenchie is calm around the cat, he’ll be more likely to do the same the next meeting.
If there’s anything your Frenchie might like more than playing with a cat, it’s probably food.
What to do if things get out of hand
If you notice any of the following signs, you should be wary of going on with their meetings. If you are determined for them to have a good friendship, you might want to consider getting help from a professional animal behaviorist.
- Your Frenchie is overfocused, ignores you, and lunges at the cat when it moves.
- This situation could end dangerously
- Your Frenchie lunges, growls, or shows any signs of aggression toward a calm, quiet cat.
- The cat is growing, hissing, or swatting.
- Give the cat a break and try again in a few days. The cat is obviously not happy around your Frenchie.
- The cat is not eating, drinking, or using its litter box when the dog is around.