Saving Bottle-Feeding Kittens

The smallest animals at the shelter take the biggest effort to save. That’s where PAWS’ Bottle Feeding Program comes in.

Orphaned kittens who are too young to eat on their own have always faced the biggest obstacles to survival in Philadelphia’s shelters due to the intense care they need. Often found when they are just days old, before they are able to eat on their own or have developed an immune system, these delicate kittens need round-the-clock feedings to survive and quick exit from the shelter to avoid becoming sick.

To begin saving these vulnerable kittens, PAWS established a successful foster-based neonatal rescue program in 2018. Our program maintains a pool of specially trained on-call foster parents ready to help bottle-feeding kittens when they arrive at the shelter.

To support each team, PAWS provides mentorship, training, veterinary care, and essential supplies such as milk replacement formula, feeding syringes, and warming pads. Once the kittens are eating on their own, they “graduate” into our regular foster program and eventually grow big enough for adoption.

PAWS works closely with the city shelter to coordinate bottle-feeder rescue, with the ultimate goal of ensuring safety for every newborn kitten that comes in. Before we started this program, most orphaned newborns entering the city shelter didn’t survive. However, since beginning this program in 2018, PAWS has saved over 2,000 neonatal kittens.

This proven-effective program is playing a major role in completely eliminating the killing of neonatal kittens in Philadelphia.

They may be tiny, but saving them is a giant step toward becoming a no-kill city.

Josie & Owen

Josie and Owen were less than two weeks old when they were abandoned outside the shelter without their mother on a cold November day. Too young to eat on their own, they needed to be bottle-fed immediately – and around the clock for weeks – in order to survive. Our dedicated team of kitten fosters sprang into action, giving these tiny siblings the constant care they needed and the chance they deserved.

Be their lifeline

With your support, we will stand ready to rescue orphaned litters in need, equip our foster parents with bottles, formula, and other supplies, provide lifesaving veterinary care, and more.

Donate to the Kitten Care Fund

Join the Bottle Feeder Program: Become a Foster


Fostering Bottlefeeders: More Details

Orphaned kittens who cannot yet eat on their own are too weak to thrive in the shelter, so 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. To save them, we need you! Kittens need to be fed around the clock every 2-3 hours until they are around 4 weeks old.


Before signing up, we ask that you read this booklet for an in-depth guide of what it takes to successfully care for bottle-feeders.


What we need from you:

  • – Complete our foster care application.
  • – Email if you can’t foster but could be available to transport litters from one foster parent to the next.
  • – Feed the kittens while in your care, closely monitor them to ensure that they are healthy and comfortable, and coordinate with the next foster parent who is signed up to take the litter.
  • – Give plenty of love to the kittens in your care!


What PAWS provides: Everything!

  • – Supplies: each litter will be sent home with a carrier, snuggle safe heating disc, bottles, formula, blankets, and a “baby book” to track milestones.
  • – Any medical care needed including routine vaccines and preventive care.
  • – 24-hour emergency phone line.
  • – A support system to help you as you learn.


To get started, please fill out our foster application and we’ll contact you. Be sure to note in your application that you are interested in the Kitten Bottle Feeder program. Together, we can save them!

PAWS’ Kitten Relay program was launched in the summer of 2018 thanks to an Innovation grant from Maddie’s Fund®, #ThanksToMaddie. Our ability to continue saving the most vulnerable kittens depends on the generosity of our supporters; please make a lifesaving donation today.


Cat Rescue and Care

PAWS rescues homeless cats who are most in danger: those with treatable medical or behavioral issues, mothers with kittens, and orphans who are too young for adoption. We help them get well, then place them in loving homes.

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Previously considered “unsavable,” cats with these manageable conditions have so much love to give. At PAWS, they find the care they need and are matched with loving adopters who are ready to help them live their best lives.

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