Foster

Open your home and save a pet's life


Foster homes are at the heart of PAWS’ ability to save lives. With a commitment of just a few weeks, you can rescue a homeless pet and help it become a well-loved companion.

Thousands of animals who are too young or too sick to be adopted arrive in city shelters each year, and temporary foster care gives them a chance at life. There are always animals at PAWS who need foster care.

Sign-Up to Foster


Ready to take home a foster pet? Get started by signing up here!

If you’ve fostered an animal with PAWS before, email foster@phillypaws.org to be matched with a foster animal.

Sign-Up Today!

Sign-Up to Foster


Ready to take home a foster pet? Get started by signing up here!

If you’ve fostered an animal with PAWS before, email foster@phillypaws.org to be matched with a foster animal.

Sign-Up Today!

Foster parents are needed for. . .

Adult cats with illnesses


Foster homes are needed for felines in our medical wards with a variety of conditions including upper respiratory infections, eye infections, dental conditions, digestive issues, and more. Some are very ill and urgently need a home setting to heal, and others just need to finish a round of meds before they’re ready for adoption.

Dogs with Medical Needs


PAWS is seeking loving foster homes for dogs of all sizes while they heal from surgery or receive  treatment at our clinic for illnesses and injuries. We focus on saving the neediest dogs, many of whom are seniors with special medical needs requiring ongoing care.

Adult Dogs


Fosters are especially needed for medium and large size dogs to provide walks, play, and training to help them transition to home life and reach their potential as family pets. Rise to the occasion, take the leash, and transform the life of a fun-loving dog who needs you!

Nursing cats with litters


The best kept secret of fostering: mom does all the work! With just the basics (food, litter, vet care, and love) the kittens will grow healthy and strong and ready for forever homes. When Mom’s done nursing, she’ll go on to find a loving family too. Fosters are especially needed during the summer months – also known as “kitten season.”

Orphaned Kittens


Take a pair, three, or more! Kittens who are too young for adoption need temporary foster care where they can grow big enough to be spayed/neutered. The need is most urgent during summer months, especially for bottle-feeding newborns.

Healthy pets of all kinds


Take in a healthy, adoption-ready pet just to open up a space in the shelter. Your foster will thrive in your care while they wait for a home, and we’ll use the spot they leave behind to rescue the next pet in need!

Support for Fosters


PAWS provides vet care, spay/neuter surgery, donated food and supplies when possible, and opportunities to find adopters through adoption events, website exposure, and more. Plus, join PAWS’ online group for foster parents to share advice, gain moral support, and celebrate successes.

Goodbye is the Goal


After caring for your foster, you’ll have the joy of seeing them go on to a loving forever home. There are lots of opportunities for your foster to meet “the one,” and PAWS is here to support you every step of the way.

Let's make a match!


Whether you’re an experienced foster or a first-timer, we’ll help make the best match and can  work with the time frame you have available.

Program Spotlights

Bottle Feeder Program


Join our bottle-feeding team! The tiniest and most vulnerable homeless pets are orphaned newborn kittens. PAWS’ innovative program takes a team approach to giving them the round-the-clock, intensive care they need to survive and thrive.

Learn More

Ringworm Recovery


This common fungal infection requires methodical care, but it doesn’t have to stand in the way of a new life. PAWS has dedicated shelter space for pets with ringworm, and provides fosters with everything needed to help them recover.

Learn More

Hospice Program


When a pet we have rescued becomes incurably ill, our veterinarians, lifesaving staff, and the foster parent form a team to provide compassionate comfort care for as long as the animal is able to enjoy their time.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

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Can I foster as a trial adoption?

Fostering is not a trial run before adoption. While fosters may potentially adopt the pet they are fostering, all animals in foster care remain available for adoption by the public. If you’re specifically interested in adopting, our staff can work with you to find a good fit for your household: matchmaking is our specialty!

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Can I choose how many foster kittens I take at a time?

We can help match you with fosters based on your preferences. Kittens are sometimes with their mom, and sometimes they are orphaned. Litters come in all sizes, and we often split larger litters into pairs or threes for foster placement. Even if you can only foster two kittens, you will be making a tremendous difference! We typically do not send single kittens into foster care, since they need companionship and socialization of at least one other kitten as they grow.

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How do I get started if I want to foster an animal?

Just complete the foster care application and you will be contacted shortly by a PAWS staff member. You can also contact us at foster@phillypaws.org and we can help you find an animal who suits your needs, abilities, and lifestyle. There are always animals at the shelter who need foster care!

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How can I find an adopter for my foster pet?

There are lots of opportunities to find a loving homes: a listing on PAWS’ website and other adoption websites, adoption events which we hold frequently on weekends, promotion on social media, placement at a PAWS adoption location, and more. We also encourage you to promote your foster to your own friends and family to widen the adopter pool even further!

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How long do I keep my foster animals?

Length of stay generally ranges anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on the needs of the particular animal.

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I have animals of my own, how do I keep them safe?

Even if you have pets of your own, you can still take in kittens and give them the chance they deserve. A small room that is separate from the rest of your living space, such as a bathroom, is the perfect place for new fosters. Sick or injured animals may or may not need to be kept separate from other pets in the house; a PAWS staff member can tell you about animals’ specific needs and precautions you’ll need to take to keep your pets healthy and safe. If you have a dog and wish to foster another dog, we’ll conduct “meets” to ensure we pair you with a dog who’ll get along well with your own.

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What do I have to provide?

Foster parents are responsible for providing the basics: food, water, a litter box, litter, bedding and toys. If you need help with the start-up supplies, please ask; we may have donations we can provide to you. Daily care required for foster kittens depends on their age. PAWS provides evaluation and treatment for conditions we are able to treat. If a foster animal has a condition we are unable to treat, the foster parent may choose to have the condition treated at a private veterinary practice at their own expense or they may return the animal to our shelter.

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I can’t foster. Is there anything else I can do?

Absolutely! Donations are always needed to save more homeless animals. And, you can become a PAWS volunteer and help care for animals in the shelter while they wait for foster and adoptive homes. Learn about volunteering and complete the application, and you will be contacted promptly with information on how to get started.

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Can I claim fostering expenses (food, litter, supplies, etc) as a charitable deduction on my taxes?

Yes! First, check with your tax preparer to get a list of all eligible items for deduction — then make sure to save any and all related receipts. If your fostering expenses add up to over $250 for the year, PAWS can provide a letter confirming that you are an active foster parent during a particular calendar year. (To request this letter, please contact foster@phillypaws.org with the subject line “Active Foster Tax Letter.”) This letter can then be used for tax purposes to support claiming related expenses as deductions. Please note, PAWS is unable to provide any legal or tax related advice — always consult with a professional if you need any clarification.

Everyday Acts of Lifesaving

Adorable lady, Nova, joined our Safety Net Foster Program and needs a place to call home for the next three months while waiting to head back home! Sweet and cuddly, she`s everything you could ask for in a house guest. Nova loves playing with her toys, snuggling up for a nap, and finding the perfect box to sit in 📦🐈

If you think you`ve been seeing a lot of posts about our Safety Net Foster Program recently, you`re correct. PAWS is seeing an increase in neighbors and community members reaching out for support, and we want to be there but we need your help! To foster Nova or another Safety Net pet, sign up at phillypaws.org/foster (link in bio)

#phillpaws #phillypawsfoster
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Get ready to ditch your business wear for Casual Friday! This fun-loving teenager wants every day to feel like a weekend. There’s never a dull moment once she romps into a room – she’s eager to greet every person, investigate her surroundings, and seek out every toy she can find (she’s especially partial to plushies)! Once playtime is over, Friday will splay out on the floor at your feet. Her main priority is being where the people are – she doesn’t want to miss a thing!

Casual Friday is ready to find her forever home, and would be thrilled to find a foster in the meantime since the shelter has been really stressful for her. She’ll do great in a dog savvy home with teens and up where she can continue polishing her manners and enjoying lots of playtime. She’d also love to live with a playful and tolerant dog who can keep her entertained and show her the ropes!

This snuggly and wiggly girl is dying to get out of the shelter and into a home where she can romp and play with people to her heart’s content. Casual Friday is 42lbs of pure silliness, and she will be overjoyed to leave with anyone who will welcome her home! Learn more about this 11 month old cutie at our adoptions page (link in bio)!

#dogsofphilly #cuteanimals #getyourrescueon #adoptlocalphl #phillypawsfoster #fosteringsaveslives
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Our goal of sending home 150 pets for the #PAWSFosterChallenge is within reach – but we *really* need your help to get there! To open up desperately needed shelter space for homeless pets, we’re extending the Summer Foster Challenge until July 3! If you have room in your home and heart, please save a life by fostering today.

The city shelter is full – with cats arriving at alarming rates and dogs staying for increasing lengths of time. 131 cats and dogs have found safety and love in foster homes since the challenge kicked off in June, and your help is urgently needed so we can save more pets who are counting on us!

Every animal who leaves the building allows us to rescue another who is waiting at the city shelter for their second chance. Please join us by signing up today at our #linkinbio!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #dogsofphilly #catsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Sign up to foster by TOMORROW, June 13, so you can join us for a live foster orientation on Zoom! We’ll hold two sessions, one for cats and kittens, and one for dogs. Each session will include everything you need to know about fostering, time for questions, and the opportunity to meet a pet who is looking for their new foster home. You’re welcome to join one session or both!

🐱 Cats and Kittens: Wednesday, June 14, 6-7pm

🐶 Dogs: Thursday, June 15, 6-7pm

Once you’ve completed the live session, you’ll be ready to take home your new foster pet. Sign up now at phillypaws.org/foster (link in bio)!

#phillypaws #phillypawsfoster #fosteringsaveslives
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They won't make it without you.

Become a Foster