Bringing home your newly adopted cat or kitten is an exciting experience. Unfortunately, many people skip crucial steps in introducing their new cat to a cat who already lives in your household. We’ve outlined some steps you can take to ensure the introduction between your cats goes well.

Before bringing your new cat home, create a separate space that will belong only to the new cat. Make sure the cat has plenty of hiding places and places to retreat. This area should have its own food and water dishes, litter box, toys and resting spots. Your current cat should not have access to this room and should have all his own separate amenities.

Once the new cat seems comfortable in her environment, switch the two cats’ rooms for a while. Place the new cat in space the older cat has been living in and vice versa. This ensures that the cats become familiar with each other’s scents. Then return the cats to their familiar territory.

Once the cats are familiar with each other’s scent, you can begin to allow the cats to see each other. This should be done through a screen door, a high baby gate or a stoppered doorway with only enough space to see through. These sessions should be brief and always supervised. You can create a positive association with seeing each other by feeding them or playing with them while the other cat is in sight. This should be repeated over several days.

Finally, it’s time for the cats to truly meet. All face-to-face introductions should be supervised. If the cats ignore each other, this is not a bad sign. It will take some time for them to accept the new friend. If the meeting does not go well, don’t be afraid to separate them again and start over with the gradual introduction process. Your goal is to make the introduction as stress-free as possible.

If you run into problems, you should seek the help of a veterinarian or behaviorist for advice. With time and careful introduction, you should be able to create a harmonious atmosphere between all the feline members of your house. Everyone will be happy that you took the time to introduce your cats the right way.

— Brown County Humane Society