Tuesday, May 22

FBRN and cats

This photo of Reba with her kitty friend reminded us that we were thinking of discussing our cat policy here a week or so ago.
Recently, we received a frustrated email from someone who wanted to apply for one of our foster dogs. She wanted a chance to adopt the Frenchie in question even though she had a cat and the biography said, "No cats." Upon reading the entire bio, the prospective applicant learned that the foster had not lived with cats, and had no history of abusing or chasing cats, and yet we had barred homes with cats without any evidence that our foster would hurt one! Why? she asked. That's silly! she said.

This is what we told her, and we thought it would be a good idea to explain our reasoning here, too. Bulldog breeds have a wide variety of temperaments and personalities. However, as a group, bulldogs have a strong prey drive, a tenacious and determined approach to getting what they want, and the anatomical means to do terrific damage if they become engaged in a fight or battle.

Many of you may have seen the photo of the Bull Terrier who had a run-in with a porcupine?This Bull Terrier, who lived to fight another day, was obviously deterred neither by pain nor by the formidable natural defenses of a far more well-equipped foe than the most feral felis domesticus.

Those of us who have known and loved bulldogs, be they English, French, Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff or others, have all heard of perfectly sweet, well-behaved bullies who seemed to be very easy going dogs, but who one day caught and dispatched a neighborhood kitty or even, horrifyingly, a kitty in their own home. A few years ago, to our shock, one of our fosters killed a kitty in her foster home.

We are not implying that other breeds don't also chase and kill cats. Some terriers, for example, have a reputation of being cat killers. We are also not saying that dog-savvy kitties can't successfully co-exist with frogdogs. Here's a photo of a Japanese Frenchie who was recently tapped to be a surrogate mom to a tiger cub!

Even given that only a small number of Frenchies may present a danger to cats, we developed the policy of not placing a dog in a home with kitties without affirmative evidence that the dog can cohabit peaceably with a cat. We will not risk the life of our adopters' cats on the chance that an untested dog will be ok with kitties.

But why not allow the kitty and the dog to meet and see if they get along?
you may ask. Why not introduce the dog to a kitty in the foster home and see what happens?

Here's our thinking on those questions: if the dog and cat get along in a one-time meeting it is no guarantee that the two will get along later. Moreover, the dog will doubtless be on a lead and in strange surroundings and may not give a reliable response. A true reading of the dog's ability to get along might come only after weeks of living together. And if they don't get along? Will the Frenchie be returned or will the kitty be rehomed or, heaven forfend, will the kitty be maimed or killed?

In the second instance, what kind of person would offer their cat as a test kitty for FBRN to use? How could we countenance any such experiment? Who would pay the vet bills in the event we could find a "disposable" kitty and could bring ourselves to make the experiment and then the experiment failed?

Ironically, given the uncertainties of housing a bull breed and a small, fast-moving animal together, many of our volunteers have both Frenchies and a cat or two.

We like cats. We like frogs. Because we like them, we will not endanger the life of a kitty on the chance that an untested dog will like them, too. We simply don't want to risk it.

We know this is a disappointment to many applicants. However, we do get Frenchies who like cats and get along well with them. Ethel, in the photo above, for instance, is clearly at home with cats. Reba is available for adoption to a home with a cat and so is Bobo, a newly available Frenchie on the website who also likes kitties. They aren't common, but cat-friendly Frenchies aren't rare, either.

Keep an eye on the website, and look for the occasional frog like Reba who is willing to lie down with a tiny lion. Then write a fabulous application and submit it! You may win the kitty-safe frog of your dreams, and you, your cat and your Frenchie can live happily ever after together.

We like kitties! On toast points, with chopped egg and onion! jokes
The Frog Princess


Anonymous said...

Well, that was interesting. I didn't know that bulldogs are like that. I've been waiting to get a Frenchie, because I have an older cat that "owns" me and wouldn't share, but I'm not willing to be cat free for life. Can I expect that if I get a Frenchie puppy and raise it with kittens, it still might eat them?


Anonymous said...

I have 3 dogs, 2 cats and a three year old child (WHEW...lol) so I understand what it's like waiting for the perfect little frog but I try to tell myself it's more important to have the right one than to get one just to have it not work out.
Thanks FBRN for your wonderful blog and all that you do.


Anonymous said...

That's what is so wonderful about adopting a rescued adult dog from a reputable rescue organization. You can be assured of what they are going to be like (except that their attributes might enhance as they adapt to your home, i.e., MORE loving, MORE playful, etc., as they relax). And you normally have an opportunity (if not a REQUIREMENT) to introduce pets you already have before adopting, to ensure compatibility. Any reputable rescue organization will err on the side of caution regarding cats, other dogs, small animals, etc., and THANK GOD FOR IT! GOD BLESS FBRN (and stick to your resolve)!!!--From Rocky, Patricia, Sisi, and CappyJack

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine ever being "catless" either. Over the years I've raised five Frenchie puppies with cats and there has never been a problem - they have coexisted quite peacefully. In my opinion a big part of it is training the dogs from day one about what is acceptable and what isn't.


Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you for this great explanation of why some frenchies aren't good with cats. I have had 2 older bull terriers - one a love and the other a terror. But we managed to socialize her. Our rescue frenchie learned to live well with our kitties, but it took time and patience. Starting them right a puppyhood seems spot on. LMS

Anonymous said...

I would add that Frenchies are bull and terriers. Some lean more towards terrier (more prey driven) and some more bully in temperament (more laid back).

It is also true of any breed or mix that they can be raised with cats and they will see them as part of the "pack". These cats are "their cats". A STRANGE cat running through the yard is nothing more than a rat or squirrel (or cat) imposing on the pack's territory.

Cat's reactions also play a HUGE role in determining how a new relationship will work out. A cat that is non-reactive, or even receptive, to a strange dog's attention will get a much better reaction from the dog than one that hisses, spits, slaps or runs (thereby kicking in the prey drive of the dog). You can't know, with a new relationship, at what point the cat may decide to "fight or flight" over something and can not predict how the dog will react.

A responsible rescue will not place unproven dogs with cats IMHO. I think FBRN's policy is quite sound in this regard. It is for the safety of ALL animals, not just the frogs (who could lose an eye, too boot!)