How to introduce a french bulldog to a cat
1. Which conditions must be met?
A basic condition for combining dogs and cats is that neither of the two has had negative experiences with the other to date. If a cat has ever been chased by a dog and “almost bitten to death,” you will have to do everything you can to overcome the cat’s fear of letting it live together with the “arch-enemy.” Even dogs that have hunted passionately for cats throughout their lives or have painful experiences with the sharp claws of the cat prefer not to include these animals on their turf.
However, dogs with a congenital hunting instinct, or very shy cats, cannot be completely excluded from a peaceful combination. Of course, in this case, you have to deal with constant setbacks and the habituation phase of both the dog and the cat will take some time – this is however not impossible. Even the apparently most unsuitable breeds are able to live peacefully with a cat under one roof when they have carefully adapted to their new roommate. So before merging you need a lot of time and patience. Never let the dog and the cat come together without you being present because the dog will continue to chase the cat unceasingly and a completely frightened or aggressive cat will use anything to avoid having to take a second encounter with this ‘monster’.
Luckily for us, Frenchie owners our French bulldogs friendly by nature and they get along just fine with other pets including cats. They can usually live together in perfect harmony. You can, however, do some prep work when you are going to introduce a cat to your Frenchie. Below are some things to consider:
Introduction between your Frenchie and the cat must be planned
In order to succeed, you must prepare everything precisely for the first introduction of both animals. Make a plan for merging and, in the best case scenario, take a few days off for implementation. Make sure that in addition to yourself there is another person present at the initial phase of getting acquainted, in this case, for example, taking care of the cat while you are mainly concerned about your French bulldog. In general, it is important that you fully focus your attention on the first meeting of your Frenchie and the cat. Special events, such as visiting friends or a family reunion, should not take place at this time. Even loud sound from the radio or television can seriously disturb the first introduction of your Frenchie and the cat.
Who adapts to whom?
If you do not have a special cat in mind to become your second pet, it is best to choose a cat that fits well with your current situation in the house. You should account for the character of your Frenchie, most of them are peaceful and calm, but there are some wild characters too. For example, if you have an older French bulldog at home, the new cat should be fairly quiet and not too wild. If you have a very lively French bulldog (mostly puppies are very lively), the cat should also have a certain confidence to be able to arm itself against the temperament of your Frenchie.
Who was first?
A decisive influence on the merging of cats and dogs is also the question of which pet was first: the dog or the cat? While dogs generally accept new relatives rather quickly as pack animals, cats are often much more skeptical about the newcomer and see the dog as a threat to their territory. So integrating a cat into a dog household works more smoothly than the other way around.
2. Arrangements for the home: the correct preparations
If it is determined that a new cat is moving in with you and you are ready for a corresponding time, effort and impulse when applying the aggregation of animals, you can quickly take action. Before the dog and cat meet for the very first time, it is advisable to take a few precautions:
Create escape options: to prevent conflicts, you must choose the most neutral space possible in the house for the first meeting. The favorite place of your Frenchie already living in the house would be an unsuitable place for the first introduction. In addition, you must ensure that the cat has the correct escape options so that she is not worried about the issue. A scratching post, a raised board or an empty window, through which they can observe the dog from a distance, gives your new cat safety. In addition, you should prepare a separate room for the newcomer, where he can stay and rest on the first day.
Food bowl and litter box: spatial separation is also recommended for the two feeding points. To prevent food envy, it is best to place the cat’s food bowl on a raised rack in the home and possibly feed the animals at different times. Just like the food bowl, the litter box is absolutely taboo for the dog. The cat in the litter box needs it’s rest and reacts very sensitive to a disruption of their privacy. Often dogs tend to eat excrement in the litter box, after which the cat turns to other places and pollutes it.
Get used to smells and sounds: parallel to the preparations in the house you can also ‘prepare’ the animals for the introduction. One possibility is that you caress the fur of both animals with a dry cloth and place it on the feeding place of the other animal. In this way, the French bulldog and cat can get used to the smell of the other and connect the smell to something positive through the combination with food. When your French bulldog has a tendency to bark loudly, the cat can also get used to this unknown and possibly scary sound in the preparation. Record the dog’s barking (easy to do with a smartphone these days) and play it a few times for the cat – start gently and gradually increase the volume until the “actual” barking volume is reached. If a cat enters a dog household, you should give the cat the opportunity to explore the area by himself for the first encounter. For example, it is a familiar terrain at the introduction and the cat has its retreat possibilities.
3. How does the first meeting go?
After the preparations in the house and the first introduction measures for the still separate animals have been taken, there are no more obstacles for the first meeting of your Frenchie and the cat. But even when you have prepared everything so well and you are totally ready for this: the real work is only just beginning. Do not expect the dog and cat to look forward to meeting each other. There is probably no ‘love at first sight’ with these naturally hostile animals. So temper your expectations and don’t be guided by the setbacks that are guaranteed in the first meeting. It will take some time before your French bulldog and the cat get along.
Ready, set, GO!
Both animals must be as balanced as possible before they see each other for the first time. Therefore, take a walk just in advance so that your Frenchie is physically excited and satisfied. A hungry stomach is also a negative factor. So make sure that both animals have eaten enough. Turn off the radio or television in the room where the acquaintance will take place and leash your Frenchie. Putting on a leash is extremely important to absolutely avoid hunting scenes between the dog and cat. When the dog, at the first meeting, chases the cat throughout the house, this usually means the end of a successful merging.
Stress and anxiety at first contact
When the dog is on a leash, another person can put the cat in the room. How close the cat gets to the dog, is a thing the cat must definitely decide for himself. In most cases, the cat usually first flees to a high and as far as possible ‘viewpoint’, from where they observe the situation and their ‘opponent’. For almost all pets, a new roommate in their ‘own environment’ creates tension. Anxiety and nervousness generally prevail and is only gradually being replaced by a certain curiosity about the new housemate. Also, don’t ask too much of both animals and end the introduction after a few minutes – even when it has been surprisingly positive.
It is important that you radiate peace and serenity. If you are tense or nervous at the first meeting, you will probably also transfer this to both pets. Prefer to play the role of the moderator that offers animals safety and peace. Stroke the dog and the cat and talk quietly and gently. If the dog pulls on the leash frantically, try to make him calm by sitting down in front of him and taking him away from the sight of the cat. But don’t make the mistake of reassuringly speaking to your dog. The dog does not understand the exact words, but can only interpret the tone and considers this kind of attention as a confirmation of his behavior and will repeat this. So only praise him if he manages to stay calm in the presence of the cat. A treat also helps as positive reinforcement – for this to work, they should only be rewarded if the dog or cat has behaved well.
4. How long does it take for your French bulldog or the cat to get used to each other?
After the first introduction is over, the key is ‘practice, practice, practice!’ Depending on how much anxiety the cat has, you should limit the acquaintance in the first few days to a few minutes a day. In the remaining time, the animals must strictly stay in separate rooms. Initially, it is sufficient for both animals to have 1 or 2 meetings of five minutes a day each. If you notice that the excitement of the first meetings is slowly decreasing, you can extend the time to 10 or 15 minutes. Before that happens, two weeks may well have passed. Do not force both animals and let them decide when they are ready for a longer time together in a room. As an owner, you know your pets best and you will find that the curiosity about the new roommate is greater than the initial fear of each other.
Dogs and cats learn to understand each other
After the first days of sniffing, the actual introduction begins. Dogs and cats are two completely different animals, which communicate via completely different body language. So it takes a while for the animals to judge the body language of each other. Only when the dog no longer sees the cat as prey or an intruder and the cat no longer sees the dog as a predator, are they ready to come closer together. A few months may pass before one of the two animals ‘breaks the ice’. While the time of the meetings is always extended, it is important that you offer the animals as much normality as possible. Try to focus your attention on something other than the animals. You can cook, browse a magazine, water the plants or send a message with your mobile phone – with this you show your Frenchie and the cat that from now on it is normal that they live together in the house.
When you let the animals together, you must be sure that they react nice to each other and do not harm each other. It often takes half a year before you can leave the animals unattended at home.
The road to an established team
In order to successfully merge your French bulldog and the cat and them getting used to a common life, you must have patience. The decision as to when the end of the habituation period has arrived is not with you, but always with the animals. And at a certain moment, your patience will be rewarded, because your French bulldog and the cat will be a good team and they will both live together in perfect harmony