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 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 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


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!


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.


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 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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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

SOS: cats need homes now! PAWS’ foster manager Tammy has a special plea for adult cat fosters.

For the first time in over a decade, far more cats are entering Philadelphia shelters than the year before. We are also seeing fewer adopters and fosters, leaving no space for us to rescue more cats whose lives are depending on it.

PAWS’ ability to save vulnerable pets – both in the community and at @acctphilly, where cats are increasingly at-risk for euthanasia due to lack of space – completely depends on the number of fosters who open their homes.

Philly’s cats are counting on all of us more than ever, and right now, adult cats especially need your help! By opening your home for even a few weeks, you’ll transform a homeless cat’s life and create desperately needed shelter space for another.

Fosters are most needed for:
🐾 Sick and injured cats, who will receive treatment in our clinics or need time to heal
🐾 Nursing mothers with kittens
🐾 Shy cats needing socialization or time to decompress
🐾 Ailing seniors and cats with chronic medical conditions
🐾 Owned cats who need temporary care through PAWS’ Safety Net Program

Learn more and sign up to foster through our #linkinbio, or email!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #catsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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Remember Bella? We first shared her story when she was dangerously ill at the hospital, but now she’s healthy, happy, and ready to start the rest of her life with you!

Bella is a dog who just loves to be loved, and she makes it pretty easy with her soulful eyes and tender personality. There’s nothing she wants more than the attention of her people, whether that is curled up next to you on the couch, or getting head scratches while you work.

This smarty pants is fully housebroken, and knows a number of commands including sit, stay, down, come, and shake. Bella is equally happy watching tv with you or running around in the yard, and her favorite thing is a car ride adventure, especially outside of the city where she can run endless zoomies!

Bella’s previous owner shared that she’s the type of dog who will “love you forever,” and her foster has expressed the same sentiment. She’s endlessly loyal and attuned to the feelings of her humans, and will be during your harder days. At 9 years young, Bella definitely has years left to love, and will make them as full as possible!

Learn more about Bella and see more of her adorable photoshoot pics at our dog adoptions page (link in bio)!

#dogsofphilly #seniordoglove #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster #adoptaseniordog #nationaladoptashelterpetday

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These sad boys desperately need to leave the shelter! Fish and Chips were rescued together by PAWS after losing their home, and are incredibly stressed in our housing room in spite of our best efforts. These handsome orange lads are looking for a foster home ASAP so they can decompress and come out of their shells. If you can help, please email!

#catsofphilly #fosteringsaveslives #phillypawsfoster #phillypaws #getyourrescueon

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Flowerpot has a crush 😍 can you guess who it is? This little ham goes into wigglebutt overdrive every time she sees her favorite mailman!

Their friendship is really something, but truth be told, Flowerpot puts this much enthusiasm into most new humans she meets. She loves people with her WHOLE heart, and would jump right into your arms if you’d let her (although we discourage that behavior since she’s 56 pounds)!

While Flowerpot’s dedication to being an absolute goofball is one of her most lovable traits, she’s also a fantastic cuddle companion at home who relaxes like a pro and has her house training perfected. If you’re looking for a goofy princess who will greet you with a happy dance every time you come home, visit our adoptions page to learn more about Flowerpot (link in bio)!

#dogsofphilly #rescuedog #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster #adoptarescuedog

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Our mushy and loveable girl Coffee Cake is still at the shelter and looking for a home! This 60-pound beauty is full of fun and loves nothing more than to run around the yard and play a game of fetch. Her zoomies are a sight to behold and she’ll keep you laughing with her silly antics! But when it’s time to wind down, Coffee Cake is also a huge snuggle bug in spite of her size.

Due to some limitations with her sight, Coffee Cake does best when meeting new friends slowly. However, it doesn’t take her long to end up curled up next to you on the couch! She loves people more than anything, and wants to be with them as much as possible.

As a snuggly queen who’s happiest being the center of attention, Coffee Cake would love a pet-free home with a dog-savvy foster or adopter. If you’re looking for a goofy new bestie, email to learn about fostering Coffee Cake, or read more about adopting her at our adoptions page (link in bio)!

#60poundlapdog #dogsofphilly #getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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We’re not fooling when we say Walt Whit is an absolute delight! He’s looking for a foster home where he can recover from his kennel cough, and will reward you with lots of affection and playful grandpa antics. Walt has an irresistible smile and plenty of pep for his 9 years, and is an absolute goof when the toys come out!

Sick animals tend to improve much faster outside of the shelter, but we’ve seen a dip in foster signups lately due to the recent canine respiratory virus going around. We’re urgently seeking dog-free homes for Walt and his sniffly friends, or homes where resident dogs can be kept separate for 2-3 weeks. If you can help, email!

#dogsofphilly #getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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Would you like to save a pet from heartache and save an owner from losing their best friend? These cats are looking for Safety Net fosters! Many animals entering shelters have owners who are desperate to keep them, and just need a temporary place for them to stay during a difficult transition. By opening your home to a friendly pet for 1-3 months, you’ll help us open shelter space for pets who truly have nowhere to go, and help a family remain intact.

Sweetie, Larry, and Curly are all very nervous at the shelter and would love to find foster homes as soon as possible. Larry and Curly came from the same household and are hoping to find a home together until their owner can take them back at the end of May. Sweetie would be happiest on her own and just needs a place to stay until April 21. If you’d like to help, please email!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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We have a full house in our feline medical ward and fosters are needed now! Thumbelina, Prospero, Moon Jelly, Patchy, Peyton, and Patty Melt are incredibly sweet and would love to finish healing at your place. They’re all recovering from injuries and don’t need much beyond rest, basic oral meds, and lots of chin scratches ❤️‍🩹

Several cats needing medical care are waiting at @acctphilly with no rescue prospects in sight, but PAWS can save them if we find homes for our current medical cases. PAWS provides all the medication, follow up vet care, and guidance you’ll need, and your feline foster friend will thank you with tons of snuggles and affection!

Email if you can help, and sign up in the meantime through our #linkinbio!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #catsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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SOS: sweet little Butterbean needs a foster hero asap! This cuddly girl has been incredibly affectionate in foster care and is going to make her future home so happy. She just desperately needs a little help getting to the point!

She was unexpectedly diagnosed with ringworm (not a worm, but a mild fungal infection of the skin), and her current foster parents aren’t set up to continue caring for her. She was very stressed when she was at the shelter, and we don’t want to put any more strain on her health!

Butterbean needs very little space in your home at the moment — she’s been prescribed strict rest due to a severe leg injury she arrived with — so even a large dog crate/pen or small bathroom will work great for this cutie! She`s currently on two medications, an oral med for Ringworm and a pain med that can be sprinkled in her food.

Email to learn more about Butterbean from our foster team!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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Piggy munchies with Peanut to kick off your Saturday night (sound on)! If you think guinea pigs sit around all day, think again. When they’re not treating you to crunchy ASMR during mealtime, many piggies enjoy exploring their surroundings and affection with their people.

We’ve got over a dozen guinea pigs available for adoption right now with a whole range of personalities, so whether you’re looking for a bonded pair or a single buddy to join a piggy friend at home (because they’re always best in twos), see who’s waiting to meet you at our #linkinbio!

#guineapigsofinstagram #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster

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