Cats and dogs are often pictured as enemies. While this adversarial connotation still lingers today, it’s not always the case for multi-pet households. The question is this: are English Bulldogs good with cats? I have an English Bulldog and a tabby cat, but they get along really well. However, for the two species to get along, you have to introduce them properly. Also, you have to remember that each cat or dog is unique, so is their reaction to meeting other pets.
Are English Bulldogs good with cats?
In general, English Bulldogs are great with cats. These dogs don’t usually mind having a cat around as long as they are trained and socialized well. Nevertheless, it’s still common to have minor cat and dog fights from time to time, especially if you got an energetic kitten.
Still, the following characteristics of English Bulldogs make them an excellent pair with just about any cat:
1. They are friendly.
English Bulldogs are one of the most laidback and friendliest breeds you can find. While some may have aggressive tendencies, it’s easy to curb with early intervention. You can raise them with a cat and not have major problems. Their prey drive is considerably low, and Bulldogs often prefer relaxing on the couch instead of chasing a cat all day.
2. They aren’t excessive barkers.
Except for English Bulldogs with separation anxiety, these dogs aren’t known to be notorious barkers. This breed is also tolerant of roughhousing, so a playful cat won’t be a big problem.
3. They are medium-sized.
One of the main concerns of Bulldog owners when introducing a cat to a dog is the possible harm. While large dogs could be friendly, they can get excited and potentially hurt the kitten. With English Bulldogs, this is unlikely to become a problem. This breed might have a stocky body, but they have a short gait and compact size.
4. They are slow-moving.
English Bulldogs aren’t the most nimble dogs, which means they aren’t up for speed-chasing and too much roughhousing. Pair that with a low prey drive, and you’ll get the right playmate for your cat.
5. They are quite tolerant.
English Bulldogs are tolerant dogs, and they won’t mind the meowing and zooming of a cat around. Also, many Bulldogs can put up with the weird antics of cats without snapping or getting aggressive.
How to introduce a cat to an English Bulldog
The key to raising a cat and Bulldog together is introducing them properly. Remember that this is a process, regardless of what dog breed you have. If you’re planning to bring home a kitty soon, you should keep these tips in mind:
1. Socialize your Bulldog with other cats
If you’re planning to get a cat, I suggest desensitizing your Bulldog to the cats in your neighborhood. It could be your friend’s cat or a friendly stray that visits your backyard. This will give your dog a headstart in living with a feline in the house.
Socialization is an important part of raising a welcoming and tolerant canine. The more your Bulldog is exposed to stimuli associated with cats, the easier it will be for him to adjust to the newcomer.
Again, take this slowly and always shower your Bulldog with treats while interacting with cats. If your dog doesn’t seem to like the first meeting, don’t force it just yet. Try some other time and see how your Bulldog will react.
Another trick I used is playing cat sounds at home. We also made our Bulldog watch cat videos on YouTube to ‘warm him up’ on the arrival of the cat we adopted. We really think it helped our dog a lot since it only took him a few days to start approaching the cat.
2. Separate them for the meantime
Any dog will be shocked and confused when introduced to a cat for the first time. It’s important to give both the Bulldog and the cat some time to acclimate to the new environment.
You can place the cat inside the crate and allow your dog to sniff and become familiar. If this setup doesn’t yield a positive response, it’s best to place the cat in a room and let your Bulldog sniff and listen to the door.
After a few days, you can swap the animal’s toys to familiarize them with each other’s scent. Do this for a week or two until both of the animals seem relaxed with the presence of the scent.
3. Supervise the first meeting
The next step is to show the cat and dog to each other. Ask someone to hold your resident doggo while you hold your cat. See how your Bulldog will react. Let it approach you while still holding the cat and observe how it behaves.
If your Bulldog growls or shows signs of aggression, stop the meeting right away. You can try again after a few hours, this time with treats.
Give your Bulldog one treat with the cat in sight. Make sure that you closely supervise both the cat and dog so that you can intervene should a fight occur. With our Bulldog, there wasn’t any harsh behavior on the first meetings, but it may not be the same with everyone.
By giving treats with the cat nearby, your Bulldog will associate the feline’s presence with rewards. It will also set a good impression with your dog that the cat is harmless.
Overall, you should schedule short meetings daily to desensitize your dog with the cat.
4. Be generous with rewards
Over the days, you can increase your Bulldog’s interaction with the cat. However, if your dog jumps up the cat, you should say a firm ‘no’. Never use any form of punishment as this will just branch out to behavioral problems.
Instead, reward your Bulldog if it behaves and stops terrorizing the cat. Pet, praise, and give your dog a treat for good behavior. This positive reinforcement will help fix negative associations between the cat and the dog. It will also teach your Bulldog that good behavior is always rewarded.
5. Be fair with attention
Many pet owners tend to favor the newcomer too much. Remember that Bulldogs can grow jealous and whiny if they don’t get enough attention. Always be fair and make sure that your resident dog isn’t neglected while helping your cat adjust to its new home.
I suggest giving your dog more attention, so he doesn’t feel left out. This will also become an indirect form of reward, so your dog will grow to like the cat.
6. Watch their body language
You can tell what your cat and Bulldog feel by observing their body language. If your Bulldog is trying to bite, pounce, bark, or scratch the cat, separate them right away.
You can also try the Look At That (LAT) method to prevent your Bulldog from getting fixated on the cat. Once you see your Bulldog staring at the cat for too long, say a perky “Look at that!” while showing a treat. This will help teach your Bulldog that the cat isn’t worth staring at and that removing its stare away from the act is a rewarded behavior.
Also, if your cat is vocalizing, has raised back hair, and swatting your dog, it’s best to give the two a break. This helps diffuse the situation before it erupts into an actual fight.
If the cat or dog wants to walk away from each other, let them do so. Never force the interaction, or your dog will just loathe being with the feline.
7. Allow loose interaction
Once your Bulldog and the cat have warmed up to each other, you can allow loose interaction. Put a leash on your dog but let the pooch drag it around. If your Bulldog shows aggression to the cat, you can step on the leash to prevent it from attacking the poor feline.
You can also repeat the introduction process to allow your dog to adjust to the cat. Aside from that, you should give your cat a dog-free corner where it can retreat away from your Bulldog if it feels threatened.
8. End the interaction with something positive
When it comes to introducing your Bulldog to a cat, you’d want to end the meeting while things are still in good spirits. You shouldn’t wait until one of the animals is agitated or stressed. As much as possible, you’d want them to part feeling good about the interaction. This way, both the cat and the Bulldog will look forward to their next meeting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can an English Bulldog kill a cat?
A: Properly bred and trained English Bulldogs will not cause harm to a cat. Just like any dog, a Bulldog that’s been raised in a violent environment will tend to be more aggressive. It’s also about how to introduce the dog to the cat and the size of the cat you’re going to get.
Q: Why does my cat keep swatting my English Bulldog?
A: Cats swat other people and animals as a form of defense. It’s possible that your English Bulldog is trying to play with a cat, but the feline sees the action as an attack or a threat. Over time, most cats will start to warm up with dogs they are living with, and swatting will soon tone down.
Q: What cat breeds suit English Bulldogs?
A: English Bulldogs tend to do well with laidback cat breeds. This includes British Shorthair, Birman, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, and Persian cats. Still, how you introduce and train your dog to accept the cat will impact how well they will get along.
Q: How long will it take my Bulldog to get used to a cat?
A: There’s no absolute formula to answer this, but experts estimate that it will take most dogs two to three weeks to acclimate to a new pet. However, the cat breed, training, socialization, and other aspects will affect how fast a canine can adjust to the presence of a feline.
Are English Bulldogs good with cats? Most of the time, yes. Bulldogs are laidback and tolerant canines that can be raised in a multi-pet household. You just have to be patient and gentle with the introduction to allow both animals to adjust well. You can also seek the advice of a veterinarian or pet trainer for guidance.