Are French Bulldogs Good with Cats? 5 Steps for a Successful Introduction


Are French bulldogs good with cats

So French Bulldogs and cats don’t get along do they? Well, in my experience that’s not entirely true, as we have successfully introduced our French Bulldog to our cat in our own home. That’s not to say it will be the same for you though! We had good results, and our French Bulldog temperament with cats has been fine (well with our own cat anyway!).

Do French Bulldogs get along with cats? French bulldogs are good with cats, as long as you make sure the introduction is done slowly and surely. All dogs and cats are different, but there’s no reason why you can’t get an older cat to get along with a French bulldog puppy in the early stages of his life.

What’s in this guide?

In this guide, I am going to firstly talk about how our cat got used to having a French bulldog in the house, with the steps we took to make the introduction as smooth as possible.

Then after that, you can see results of a survey, plus some additional information on other things you might want to try to help them get along. There is also some details on what to do with an older Frenchie when a kitten comes into your home.

French Bulldog temperament with cats: our personal experience

We had a cat way before we got our Frenchie, Claude. Poopie was 11 years old when Claude arrived in our home and to be honest, we were worried on how she would react to a hectic puppy invading her space.

Poopie has always been very territorial. She hates dogs, she hates cats, in fact she hates everything unless it’s a human offering her food and a stroke.

I remember a conversation I had with my wife before we committed to buying our Frenchie, that all hell was going to break loose when we got home.

My wife and Poopie the cat proved me wrong.

In fact, in the video below you can see our French Bulldog and cat playing together with a laser pen.

Here’s how we introduced our pets successfully, how did it, and what the results were.

How to introduce a French bulldog to a cat

Introducing a French bulldog to a cat wasn’t hard for us, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.

Using the steps below, we limited the amount of fur flying, and now have two pets that live in relative harmony together.

1. Use a crate or barrier and keep them separate at first

It’s important not to force things, and if you have a crate, use it.

Claude was around 14 weeks old when we first got him, and using a crate was an essential part of training.

To introduce him to Poopie that cat, we placed him in his crate, and then let her wander into the room.

Her first reaction was shock. Her hackles went up, and she stalked around the room. But after a few minutes her curiosity got the better of her, and she went up to the crate to sniff and check him.

It’s essential to keep them both separated like this until they accept each other.

I would also advise not to do an introduction when it’s a meal-time, as this is where a flashpoint could occur.

2. Remove the barriers but supervise contact

We left Claude crated for about an hour, by which point our cat’s hackles were down. It was time to let him out.

Before doing so, we placed our cat up on a table, so she had the higher ground and was in a position of strength.

Claude ran out and wanted to play with her – he was a puppy after all – and our cat looked at him with a mix of displeasure and still the curiosity.

French bulldog and cat
As you can see when we first got Claude, the cat wasn’t too bothered by him at all. They are now great friends.

After about an hour, she got bored of sitting on the table, and jumped down. He chased her around the kitchen, she gave him a swipe, and he seemed to know his place in the pecking order after that!

However, we didn’t leave them together in the same room for a few days unless we were with them.

I think that’s key, because if the contact is unsupervised, you simply don’t know what could happen.

Handy Hint: I’ve seen other people say that it’s a good idea to make sure your Frenchie is tired during the physical introduction phase. This makes sense too, so you also want to consider wearing your French bulldog out first, so that he’s not as hectic when he meets the cat face to face for the first time. 

3. Praise both pets for good behaviour

During this supervisory phase, we always made sure to praise both animals for good behaviour, plus also scold them when things weren’t going to plan.

Mainly this was with our dog.

For example, if he jumped up at the cat, we would be firm with him. But if he was relaxed and gentle with her, we praised him and gave him a treat. That let him learn that good behaviour is to be rewarded.

4. Give your cat plenty of attention

Poopie the cat was used to having her own space, so having Claude suddenly on the scene did put her nose out of joint – and understandably so.

We made a point of giving her lots of attention to make sure that she didn’t feel left out or threatened by the new strange arrival.

5. Watch for problems and warning signals

And lastly, look out for any signs that trouble could be brewing.

For example, is your Frenchie exhibiting signs of aggression, or is your cat looking stressed.

Cats can urinate indoors when they feel threatened, or go off their food completely. If this is happening, then your cat evidently is feeling that it’s territory is under attack form the new arrival.

Either of them could also start lunging, swiping, scratching and biting at each other. If this happens (which it rarely did for us thankfully), then give them both a break for 24 hours and keep them separate for a while before trying again.

What to do after the introduction and longer term

I believe a lot of our success was due to the fact that our Frenchie was smaller than our cat when the introduction happened. That must have meant that she felt less threatened than she would have done if he was a fully-grown Frenchie coming into her territory.

He is now twice the size of her, but I can’t help but think she still believes she is the larger one!

Our cat hates dogs, but with Claude, I don’t believe she thinks he is a dog!

Now that Claude and Poopie are (most of the time) the best of friends, there are still some precautions that we put in place (here’s another video of them playing):

Keep their eating areas separated

The biggest tip I can give you hear is to keep their food and water separate. This is definitely the key to keeping our French Bulldog temperament and behavior ok with our cat.

Since we got Claude, we have now moved our cat’s food up onto a work surface in our utility room, rather than it being on the floor.

This gives her a feeding place where she can relax and eat without our Frenchie wolfing down her food before she gets a chance.

French bulldogs are greedy and will eat anything that they find.

By having our cat’s food up high where only she can get to it, we keep them separated at feeding time, and keep them both very happy.

do cats and french bulldogs get along
Keep the cat’s food away from your Frenchie, we keep ours up high on a work surface.

It is so important to do this, because cats are very territorial, and French bulldogs are very greedy, so it could be a potential flashpoint.

They might even end up sharing a bed

Our pets have now known each other for over 2 years.

Poopie the cat now even sleeps in Claude’s crate with him. That’s how well they get along and just proves that French bulldogs are good with cats, providing the training and introductions have been done well.

French bulldog and cat sleep together
And yes, they will even share a bed themselves together they get along so well!

Please note: Quick disclaimer here, this is his crate from when he was a puppy and we were training him. The only time that crate door is ever shut is if we have a visitor come to our house who is nervous of dogs. Most of the time this is when our son’s friends (he’s 5 years old) come to visit who might be scared of dogs initially. 

We occasionally also let them both come upstairs and chill out with us on our bed.

You can see them both doing just that in the photo below:

French bulldog and cat on the bed
They get along so much that they will even share our bed from time to time!

Do our French bulldog and cat get along ALL the time?

No, and I would be lying if I was to say it was complete harmony all year round.

There have been a couple of instances in the last 2 years when our cat has given our Frenchie a swipe. Sometimes our French Bulldog is scared of our cat.

Usually it happens when the dog is excited.

Occasionally when Claude has the wind up his tail, he will chase our cat. That can be in the kitchen or round the garden. She will always out pace him though, and quickly finds sanctuary up a tree or on a table.

If she does get cornered, she will hiss and lash out at him, which soon sends him the message that it’s not playtime!

And the weird thing is, a few seconds later she will come down and they will both act as if nothing has happened.

But what about other people’s cats when on a walk?

But does that mean Claude is ok with other people’s cats, such as those belonging to our neighbours, or ones we come across when on a walk?

Well, this is a slightly different issue.

When Claude sees a cat in our neighbourhood, he is naturally inquisitive, and his first instinct is to run up to it. He’s the same with little kids, people, birds, rats, and any other dog through, so it’s not an exclusive “cat thing”.

In fact, our Frenchie doesn’t have any malice in him, I’ve never met one who does. So, when he does run up to a strange cat, it’s just play, and not aggression.

A few months ago, one neighbourhood cat stood her ground as she wasn’t in the mood for Claude’s playing. The cat, who probably hates all dogs, gave Claude a very deep scratch across his nose.

We ended up having to take him to the vet.

So be warned, just because your cat might be fine with a Frenchie, it’s unlikely that another cat will as they just see him as a threat.

Will my cat get on with a French bulldog though?

Obviously Poopie and Claude could be the exception to the rule, and I can’t speak for other Frenchie owners. So, I did the next best thing, and ran a poll on Facebook to see what other people say.

The poll asked the question “are French bulldogs good with cats”, and I gave the voters 4 different options to choose from:

  1. Yes, they love each other and live in harmony.
  2. Yes, but they just tolerate each other really.
  3. No, but it’s not a problem
  4. No, they hate each other

Here’s how the results came in with 177 replies.

Are French bulldogs good with cats
This is what happened when I asked 177 Frenchie and cat owners what they thought.

As you can see, it’s not the most conclusive as the two varying opinions on hate (29%) and harmony (38%) aren’t that far apart.

So, what does that mean for you?

Nothing in reality as it really does boil down to the individual cats and dogs in question and how you manage it.

I personally believe that if you bring a Frenchie puppy into your home, it will be a lot easier than introducing an adult dog into an adult cat’s environment.

How to introduce a cat into a Frenchie’s home

But what about the other way around, when you already have an adult French bulldog and want to bring a cat or kitten into your home.

This is something I don’t have any experience of, so instead, had a look online to see if I could find any hints and tips.

The best tips I found for this was on the Adopt a Pet website. You can see how they do it on their 6 step guide.

Which dogs are good with cats?

As part of my research into this guide, I also wanted to find out which dogs are good with cats, and whether any particular breeds are better than others.

If you already own a cat, and are thinking about getting a Frenchie, you might also want to consider some alternative breeds.

I found this list on the BarkPost.com website so can’t vouch for how scientific the research is, but it seems to make sense given what I already know about the breeds below.

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Pomeranian
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Bichon Frise
  5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  6. Pug
  7. Basset Hound
  8. Boxer
  9. Shetland Sheepdog
  10. French Bulldog 

I believe though that it really depends on the dog as an individual, and who was introduced into the house first.

Handy Hint: When we first got Claude he used to eat our cat’s poop. Click here to find out why and how you can stop your Frenchie from eating poop in a few simple steps.

Conclusion

This guide isn’t a magic bullet to French Bulldogs and cats that will work every time in getting your French bulldog and cat to get along.

All dogs are different, and just like us humans, have unique personalities.

If you already own a cat, then you should know her personality and what she is like with dogs. Like I said though, our cat hated dogs, but I think the fact he was a puppy and smaller than her played a massive part in them getting along.

Just don’t force things, take things SLOWLY.

And hopefully you will see, just like we did, that French bulldogs can be good with cats.

You might also like…

I recently published a new article about how French Bulldogs can be great for family’s with children. It contains a lot of personal opinion and some anecdotal evidence about how good their are with kids, babies, and toddlers.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things I've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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