URGENT: The city shelter is full, and we need your help to make more room for at-risk cats and dogs!


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 them become a well-loved companion. Each year, thousands of animals who are too young or too sick to be adopted arrive in city shelters, and temporary foster care gives them a chance at life. From cats and dogs to even guinea pigs, there are always animals at PAWS in need of foster care!

Our dedicated team works closely with fosters to ensure the best match possible between you and your foster pet, considering factors such as lifestyle, experience, resident pets in the home, and more.

PAWS provides fosters with comprehensive support including medical care for all foster animals, regular communication with our foster team, guidance on any resident pet introductions, and more. We also provide fosters with supplies when needed, including food, cat litter, toys, and dog collars/leashes.

As a PAWS foster, you will provide love and care, all while enjoying the immensely rewarding experience of saving lives!

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. . .


Rise to the occasion, take the leash, and transform the life of a fun-loving dog who needs you! While fosters are needed for dogs of all sizes, especially for large size dogs, to provide walks, play, and training to help them transition to home life and reach their potential as family pets. Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or new to it, we’ll support you in managing any behavioral changes that arise in foster care. 

We are also seeking foster homes for dogs with a variety of medical conditions and are in need of a little extra TLC while they heal from surgery or receive treatment at our clinic for illnesses or injuries. We focus on saving the neediest dogs, many of whom are seniors with special medical needs that require ongoing care.


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

Foster homes are also crucial for cats who are shut down and scared at the shelter. They need a quiet place to decompress and feel safe again. And playful, high energy cats also benefit from a foster home where they can receive more playtime and space than at the shelter.

Nursing Cats with Kittens

The best kept secret of fostering a family: mom does all the work! With just the basics (food, litter, vet care, and love) the kittens will grow healthy, strong, and ready for adoption. 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.”

Most nursing moms make fostering easy, but sometimes they may fall ill with a cold and need your help feeding the kittens. Occasionally, hormonal changes can make mom a bit protective as well.

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 before adoption. Most of these kittens are eating on their own, but they need foster homes to keep a close eye on their health and appetites to ensure they’re growing big and strong!

The need is most urgent during summer months for both kittens eating on their own as well as bottle-feeding newborns. Sometimes kittens will need a little extra TLC with medical treatment for upper respiratory infections, eye infections, digestive issues, or injuries. And if they haven’t been well socialized with people yet, they will need your help getting comfortable and adoption ready!


PAWS’ Safety Net Foster Program provides temporary housing for pets whose owners are going through times of transition or crisis. These are cherished pets with owners who love them, and just need a temporary place for them to stay during a life change. For pet owners who only need a few weeks or months to get resettled, safety net foster homes can provide peace of mind, keep animals out of shelters, and enable joyous reunions to occur.

By providing a temporary home as a safety net foster parent until they can be reunited with their families again, you’ll be saving a pet from losing their best friend and saving an owner from heartache. Safety Net fostering usually lasts between 3-5 months, and is a rewarding way to enjoy some furry companionship.

Cats & Kittens with Ringworm

This is one our biggest foster needs in the summer months! Fosters are needed for cats with ringworm, a simple fungal infection of the skin that can affect cats of all ages, especially kittens. While it can spread to humans and other pets, don’t let ringworm scare you—careful quarantine procedures along with proper medical treatment for a few weeks usually does the trick! By fostering cats with ringworm you can make a big impact, especially since these cats are at high risk of euthanasia when city shelters become full.

As a ringworm foster, you’ll need a designated space to keep your cat separate from other animals. We provide all the supplies and guidance you need to care for ringworm kitties, and  these friends can be promoted for adoption while undergoing ringworm treatment.


Looking for a small, furry bundle of fun? Our guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils are some of the easiest foster pets to care for! These tiny friends don’t take up much room and typically find homes within 1-2 months, or they can be placed at our Old City Adoption Center. PAWS can provide a cage, starter supplies including food and bedding, and care instructions for your new friend!

Bottle Feeder Kittens

Orphaned newborn bottle feeder kittens are especially fragile and at risk without their mom. They need around the clock care, being fed every 2-4 hours. While it’s a lot of work with some sleepless nights for a few weeks, it’s incredibly rewarding to see the kittens grow! You can opt to foster these babies until they’re eating on their own or until they’re ready for adoption.


Pet sitting for other foster parents is incredibly helpful to prevent pets from being returned to the shelter.

For dogs with longer stays, you can give them a shelter break and help us get to know them. You can take them out for a day trip, or take them home for a set amount of time.

FAST candidates are social cats with a mild illness or injury. They’re considered a shorter term foster commitment because they typically only need about 3 weeks of foster care. Once they’re healed up, they can be dropped back off at our adoption center.

For kittens who arrive at our shelter unexpectedly and aren’t fully eating on their own, they cannot stay at the shelter overnight, therefore they need urgent temporary foster care while we find a longer term foster.

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 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!


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 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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They won't make it without you.

Become a Foster