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 have the incredibly rewarding experience of rescuing a homeless pet and helping it become a well-loved companion.

Thousands of animals who are too young or too sick to be adopted arrive at the city’s animal control shelter each year. Temporary foster care gives them a chance at life. There are always animals at PAWS who need foster care, but the need is particularly urgent during “kitten season,” May through October.

Foster parents are needed for. . .

Orphaned Kittens


Take a pair, or more! Kittens who are too young for adoption need temporary foster care where they can grow big enough to be spayed/neutered (2.5 months or 2.5 pounds). Some are big enough to eat on their own, and others need to be bottle-fed.

Nursing cats with litters


The best kept secret of fostering: mom does all the work! With just the basics like food, litter, and love, the kittens will grow healthy and strong and ready for forever homes. And when Mom’s done nursing, she’ll go on to find a loving family too.

Adult Dogs


Fosters are especially needed for medium and large size dogs to harness their energy through walks, play, and training. Teach them basic manners and help them transform from a homeless shelter dog to a well-mannered family pet. Rise to the occasion, take the leash, and change the life of a fun-loving dog who needs you!

Dogs with Medical Needs


PAWS rescues dogs of all sizes who need loving foster homes while they heal from surgery or receive ongoing treatment at our clinic for cardiac conditions, orthopedic issues, and more.

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 some just need to finish up their meds before they’re ready for adoption. Cats heal much faster outside the shelter and in a loving home setting.

Healthy pets of all kinds


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

New to fostering?


Complete the foster care application to get started!

Begin Application

Fostered with PAWS before?


Email foster@phillypaws.org to be matched with a foster animal.

Send Email

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 rescuing and caring for your foster, you’ll have the joy of seeing them go on to a loving forever home. Adopt your foster out, then come take a new foster in their place! 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 will help make the best match for you and can also work with the time frame you have available.

News Spotlight

08.09.18

Saving Orphaned Newborns: PAWS’ bottle feeder program has arrived!


Of all the animals entering Philadelphia’s shelters, the most vulnerable are orphaned kittens who cannot yet eat on their own. Too weak to thrive in the shelter, their only chance at survival is to be immediately rescued and bottle-fed at home by a foster parent – a challenging but incredibly rewarding job. Our ability to […]
Read 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 are held nearly every weekend, 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.

Everyday Acts of Lifesaving

They won't make it without you.

Become a Foster