Foster homes are at the heart of PAWS’ ability to save lives. There is always an animal who needs you; 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.
Foster parents are needed for dogs, cats, and kittens. PAWS provides vet care, spay/neuter surgery, donated food and supplies when possible, and support in reaching potential adopters through adoption events, online exposure, and more.
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. The need for foster care is great throughout the year, but it is particularly urgent during “kitten season,” May through October, when hundreds of cats and kittens can arrive at the shelter on any given day.
Offices and workplaces: learn about our “Cats Around Town (CAT!)” foster program!
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about fostering:
How can I help? What is it exactly?
Fostering gets animals out of the shelter and into safe, loving, homes where they can grow or heal until they are ready for permanent adoption. Our biggest need for foster care is for kittens under 2.5 pounds, the weight at which they can be spayed/neutered. Foster homes are also needed for adult cats and dogs, some of whom are sick or injured, or others who simply need to get out of the shelter to create space for other homeless animals, or to relieve some of the stress and related behavioral issues they are experiencing.
How do I get started if I want to foster an animal?
Just fill out this form and you will be contacted shortly by a PAWS representative. You can also contact our foster care coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.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.
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?
All foster cats and kittens must be kept indoors. A small room that is separate from the rest of your living space, such as a bathroom, is the perfect place for them. So even if you have pets of your own, you can still take in kittens and give them the chance they deserve. 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.
Do I have to foster a mom with kittens? Can I just foster kittens?
Kittens are sometimes with their mom, and sometimes they are orphaned. Litters come in all sizes, but 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.)
I don’t know very much about cats, do you have any information to give foster parents?
We have a starter packet to send home with new foster parents. It discusses in detail what you will need and what to do, and also provides information on the developmental stages of the animal.
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 match for your household and support you along the way.
I may not be ready to foster. Is there anything else I can do?
Absolutely! We have many volunteer opportunities for individuals eager to help homeless animals. Click here to complete our volunteer application, and you will be contacted promptly with information on how to get started.
I’m ready! Take me to the Foster Care Application!
(Or, click here print a copy of the application to mail/fax/email to us.)