The Joys and Downfalls of Having a Pet in Paris

The Joys and Downfalls of Having a Pet in Paris

© Damedeeso/123RF

City Dweller? With pets? Is it even possible? Yes, of course it’s possible to raise an animal in a Parisian apartment. Anyone can see the Parisians love their dogs; they just don’t love to clean up the poo that litters the sidewalk! France is a dog-friendly place. Where else are they welcomed in restaurants and stores and seated at tables?

Dog in Parisian apartment
Chip pining to go outside of his Paris apartment. Photo courtesy of author

A Dog’s French life

When we moved to the Paris region, we brought along our pets, a dog and a cat. We settled into an apartment with no garden, which was a huge change for our large family. With no outdoor space, we found that we needed to develop a new walk schedule. Luckily, it wasn’t too difficult and we quickly adjusted our routine to meet the needs of our dog, Chip. Chip is easy-going and can get by on two walks a day. That is not his preference, though, as he misses the ability to just go out as he pleases. Occasionally, he whines at the door making his displeasure known. My dog loves to be outside no matter what the weather.

© Alexis Duclos for INSPIRELLE
© Alexis Duclos for INSPIRELLE

Dog overboard!

What we did not know was how dangerous living in a Paris apartment can be to our pets. No, seriously, I’m not joking. The day we moved into our new place, I shut Chip in our bedroom, but we left the door to the small balcony open. I was upstairs watching my husband pull up the car to unload when suddenly, I see our dog sailing over the 2nd floor balcony. He landed flat out and did not move. It was so scary! I dashed down the steps and by the time I arrived, my husband had him in his arms and we rushed him to a nearby vet. Thankfully, Chip survived the fall. He suffered from lots of bruising and a concussion, which earned him an overnight stay. Our family was so grateful that his injuries were not severe.

Lili the cat at home by the window. Photo courtesy of author
Lili the cat at home by the window. Photo courtesy of author

Cat with nine lives

Less then a year later, Lily, our cat, apparently decided that she needed to outdo her fuzzy counterpart. One day, she was lying on the window ledge in the kitchen. I normally bring her inside very quickly, but got sidetracked. Unfortunately, Lily fell out the window. Her fall was from three stories and she was not as lucky as Chip. Lily suffered from a broken femur. After many surgeries and a change of doctors, her leg finally healed. Today, she lives with a pin inside her and walks with a limp, but happily she has adapted well.

Cats falling out of windows is apparently more common than you might think in Paris. We began looking around and we could spot fellow cat owners by the barricades on their windows. Our vet told us that he often sees two to three cases per summer. We knew that when our cat was better, she would miss her time at the windows and we would also suffer in hot weather if they were always closed. So we got creative and devised a simple screen contraption with some heavy duty plastic, rope and small pieces of wood. We’re thankful that it does the job when we need it.

Pets shoudl avoid freefall from apartment windows. Photo courtesy of author
Pets should avoid freefall from apartment windows. Photo courtesy of author


Man’s best friend

Through all of this, my husband and I wondered if we should consider pet insurance. Time got away from us and I never pursued it, but now I have some regrets. At the beginning of October, Lily was diagnosed with cancer – lymphoma. Our cat had a tumor in her nasal cavity. It seemed quite aggressive and once it was diagnosed, we started radiation and chemotherapy. The treatment has shrunk the tumor very successfully and we are hoping the cancer will soon be in remission. Lily is a young cat and she does not have any of the associated diseases that often come with cat lymphoma. It is my sincere hope that she will beat the disease and will live past the median of two years.

Recently, we added a new dog to our family who has not flown out our window – yet. Her name is Cèci. We rescued and adopted her from Les Petits Innocents association in France. It has been a very rewarding process for us and I am happy to say that she’s doing well with my family of six and two other pets in our Parisian flat.

Our new adopted dog Ceci. Photo courtesy of author
Newly adopted dog Ceci. Photo courtesy of author

Our kids love our pets. They take an active part in their care as well. On school days, I cover the first two walks for the dogs and they do the last two. On weekends or days where there is no class, each child walks a dog twice during the day. The younger ones take the early walks and breakfast and the older two manage the later walks and dinner. They are all responsible for cleaning the litter once a week. We make pet care a family affair!

INSPIRELLE’s Parisian Pet Owners Guide 

If you’re a pet owner, or thinking about becoming one, INSPIRELLE has put together this list of useful links that can help keep things purring along for you and your beloved companion!

Vet finder

Pet Insurance

Pet care
Dog training, walking and boarding
Lost/Missing Dogs
Animal adoption


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Michelle Beary is another American trying to survive in France. She keeps life in perspective with deep yoga breaths while drinking a healthy dose of wine and Champagne. Life is crazy with four children and a husband that help keep her sane. Keeping the crazies at bay and the drama to a minimum can be a challenge, and some days are harder than others. Still Michelle tries to stay positive and says it is better to look back at the bumps in the road and call them accomplishments. She moved overseas in 2011 and settled in Paris in 2013. Her family wants to spend every weekend on the couch playing video games. So, during the week, Michelle heads out to explore and learn about the amazing city she now calls home.


  1. Great read thanks for sharing! I moved with my dog from California to Spain, and now I’m thinking of making a move to Paris. Are there dog parks available for our fluffy friends?

  2. I can relate! Having just moved to Paris my little dog is wondering where all the squirrels are, why can’t he just run free like the other dogs in our neighborhood (shudder) and why don’t their humans pick up their poop??? But we are adjusting and having a good time.


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