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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.

Everyday Acts of Lifesaving

Have you ever wanted your very own sugarplum fairy? Maybe one with floppy jowls, silly antics, and mixed feelings about holiday attire? Sweet Stuff is ready to bring you tons of cheer throughout the year!

This lovable pup is a full-time wiggle butt whose love for squeaky toys is matched only by her love for snuggling (seriously, she’s 100% convinced she’s a lap dog). A fast learner with tons of joy and enthusiasm to spare, Sweet Stuff will make a wonderful companion for anyone who’s looking for an adventure buddy by day and a cuddle queen by night.

Learn more about this affectionate 3 year old at our adoptions page (link in bio)!

#dogsofphilly #holidaycheer #adoptarescuedog #adoptlocalphl #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Pierogi needs your help! This affectionate little energizer bunny is reaching the end of her foster period next week, and will have to come back to the shelter if a foster or forever home can’t be found. As an outgoing lovebug who wants to spend all day with her humans, Pierogi finds the shelter especially difficult, and she’s really hoping her special someone is out there!

Pierogi will be a great fit for an active, dog-experienced household where she can spend lots of time with her people, especially if there’s another playful pup for her to zoom around with!

Visit our #linkinbio to learn more about Pierogi at our adoptions page, or to sign up as a foster (you can also help by sharing this post)!

#getyourrescueon #dogsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Pumba here to remind you there’s just hours left to have your gift matched!

#GivingTuesday is almost over, but there’s still time to double your impact for pets who are waiting for their chance to be safe and loved. This little grandpa ended up at the city shelter when his heartbroken owner was unable to keep him, but he got his second chance at PAWS and is hoping you’ll give what you can for other pets who need our help!

You can give through our Instagram fundraiser, Venmo (username @phillypaws), or through our #linkinbio!

#snaggletooth #getyourrescueon #dogsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Muffin Man is in biscuit overdrive with some exciting news: our $60,000 match is now $75,000! A donor was so inspired by the outpouring of generosity for animals who need us that they have pledged an additional $15,000 in matching funds, which means we need your help to reach our goal before midnight!

Your kindness will provide healing and hope for pets like Muffin Man who desperately need it. This affectionate senior spent 8 years as an outdoor cat, but was brought to the city shelter when his neighborhood caretaker saw that he was unwell. He needed medical evaluation beyond their resources and was at risk for euthanasia if a rescue couldn’t be found to take on his care.

Thanks to supporters like you, we were ready to rescue Muffin, evaluate his needs, and start him on a path to spend his golden years happy and healthy. Now recovering from dental surgery in foster care with a PAWS vet tech, Muffin Man will be safe and loved for the rest of his days!

Please give before midnight to double your impact for more pets who needs us! You can give via Instagram, Venmo (username @phillypaws), or at our #linkinbio!

#givingtuesday #makingbiscuits #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Will you be a hero to homeless pets like Eloise and Lorelei? She and her sister were alone, hungry, and cold when they were found without their mother in the freezing cold last week. At just ten days old, they needed round-the-clock bottle feeding to survive. Thanks to supporters like you, they found safe haven at PAWS, and are now in a loving foster home and growing stronger every day. We’ll give these little ones all the care they need for as long as it takes until they are ready for a forever family.

Today only, gifts are being matched up to $60,000, so your gift will be doubled to ensure we can be there for twice as many pets whose lives are on the line. You can give via Instagram, Venmo (username @phillypaws), or through our #linkinbio!

#getyourrescueon #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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It’s been over 100 days for Denny. This sensitive boy lost his home at less than a year old when his owner passed away in August, and he’s been at the shelter ever since. All he wants in the world is love and reassurance from someone he trusts, and we’re hoping that person is reading this post right now. Could it be you?

Denny is full grown at about 1 year old, but in many ways he’s still very much a puppy. He loves to goof off and play, and will shower you with enthusiastic face kisses once you’re in his circle of trust. He’s also very unsure of himself, and is looking for someone to bond with and help him feel more confident.

A quiet, dog-savvy foster or adoptive home with some training experience (or interest in learning) would be a dream come true for young Denny. If you’d like to help this very special boy, we’d love to tell you all about him! Email foster@phillypaws.org to speak with our team about Denny, or learn more about him at our adoptions page (link in bio)!

#getyourrescueon #fosteringsaveslives #dogsofphilly #rescuedog #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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Every day is Friday as far as Kai is concerned! This spunky and affectionate 3 month old is SO excited to see us every time we step into PAWS’ ringworm ward, and is literally falling over himself to ask for snuggles and playtime. He’s been stuck on his own in a kennel for six whole weeks while being treated for ringworm, and is desperate to leave the shelter for a foster or adoptive home where he can finish his treatment. Could that be with you?

If you’d like to take home this little one for a few weeks — or for life! — email foster@phillypaws.org with his name in the subject line.

(Kai would also be thrilled to have another feline friend to play with once he tests negative)!

Ringworm fast facts:

🔹 It’s not a worm — it’s a fungal infection of the skin that usually shows up as small patches of hair loss in pets⁠⁠.
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🔹 It’s a mild infection, but contagious to people and pets, so a separate room for fosters is the best way to prevent it from spreading during treatment.

🔹 It usually takes 4-8 weeks to clear up (and Kai is already several weeks into his treatment)!

🔹 We have twice weekly “dip days” at our Grays Ferry clinics for ringworm fosters/adopters to drop their kitties off for medicated baths — no need to do it at home!

#getyourrescueon #ringwormkittens #fosteringsaveslives #kittensofinstagram #catsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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The shelter remains FULL and fosters are still very much needed! These PAWS pets are our most urgent foster candidates at the shelter, and many more need us.

We had to postpone a rescue trip to the city shelter yesterday because our housing was at capacity, and in order to save the at-risk pets who are counting on us, we need to make more space at the shelter by finding foster homes for the pets in our care. That’s where you come in!

If you’d like to take home a temporary friend for the holiday season, we’d love to match you with a shelter pet in need. Whether you’re available for 3 days or 3 months, a beginner or an expert, there’s a furry friend who can’t wait to meet you.

Our goal is to send home 100 pets in November for the #PAWSFosterChallenge, so learn more and sign up today at our #linkinbio!

#fosteringsaveslives #getyourrescueon #catsofphilly #dogsofphilly #phillypaws #phillypawsfoster
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These kittens were positively ✨glowing✨ during their welcome exam! Harper, Hoskins, and Noka are just a few of the very friendly felines in PAWS’ ringworm ward who are urgently seeking foster homes.

Ringworm is a skin infection that’s mild, but it’s also easy to spread at the shelter and can take a while to clear up. That means cats and kittens in our ringworm ward can spend weeks being isolated in their kennels if they don’t find foster homes to finish their treatment. While we pull out all the stops to give them lots of enrichment and affection, it can’t compare to a loving home, and is especially hard on young kittens who just want to snuggle and play 💔

The good news is, fostering or adopting a ringworm kitty is easier than you think! If you’d like to take home an adorable fungal friend, email foster@phillypaws.org.

Ringworm fast facts:

🔹 It’s not a worm — it’s a fungal infection of the skin that usually shows up as small patches of hair loss in pets⁠⁠.
⁠⁠
🔹 It’s a mild infection, but contagious to people and pets, so a separate room for fosters is the best way to prevent it from spreading during treatment.

🔹 It usually takes 4-8 weeks to clear up (and most of these babies are already a few weeks into their treatment)!

🔹 We have twice weekly “dip days” at our Grays Ferry clinics for ringworm fosters/adopters to drop their kitties off for medicated baths — no need to do it at home!

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

Become a Foster