General | Donating | Fostering | Adoption | Barn Cats | Volunteering

General Questions

Who is 4Paws?

We are a volunteer based non-profit organization that takes in neglected, abandoned, abused and unwanted cats and kittens. Cats rescued by 4Paws receive vaccines and appropriate veterinary care before being adopted into permanent, loving homes. An animal rescued by 4Paws will never be euthanized except out of medical necessity.

What does 4Paws do?

Every cat rescued by 4Paws receives veterinary care: spay or neuter, vaccines, and treatment for parasites. All adoptable cats and kittens are placed into foster homes. Those that are not friendly are returned to their outdoor homes. The majority of cats rescued from outdoors suffer from illnesses such as diarrhea, upper respiratory, and ear infections. Once these maladies are resolved, the cats are returned outdoors or adopted into loving homes.

Where does 4Paws get their cats?

Most cats rescued by 4Paws come from local and rural animal shelters. Every day we get frantic calls and emails from shelters begging 4Paws to take cats and kittens whose time is running out. When the shelters are full, cats already in the shelters must be euthanized to make room for new arrivals.

Over the summer, 4Paws received some particularly distressing calls from shelters overrun with mother cats and kittens. The idea of newborn kittens killed before they even had a chance at life was unacceptable. With a swell of community support, 4Paws was able to rescue more than 150 of those kittens and mothers. Saving all those lives had its cost. Many suffered from medical issues including, diarrhea and upper respiratory infections, resulting in high vet bills. Fortunately, all survived and most are spending the holidays in their forever homes.

Does 4Paws partner with other shelters?

Yes, we do!

Do you have a No Kill Commitment?

4Paws Rescue Team is a “no kill” shelter. We will never euthanize a cat or kitten, except out of medical necessity. A cat rescued by 4Paws is never killed simply because we don’t have enough room. The reality of this commitment, though, is that we cannot rescue any additional cats from shelters or the streets until one of our cats finds a home, opening a space in foster care. The organization can only rescue as many homeless cats as we have fosters homes available to care for them.

Where is 4Paws located?

4Paws does not have a physical location. Our cats are housed in foster homes around the DC Metro area. You can also meet some of our cats at adoption fairs and partner pet stores in Northern Virginia.

How can I help 4Paws?
  • Donate: 96 cents of every donation goes straight to helping our cats. Learn about all the ways you can donate here.
  • Volunteer: We are a volunteer run organization so anything you can do helps save lives! See the open volunteer opportunities here.
  • Foster: Foster homes are essential for many cats because they get the socialization they need to prepare for adoption. Learn how to become a foster today.
  • Adopt: By adopting you save not one, but two lives. You make room for us to save more animals. Check out our available cats here.
Are donations tax-exempt?

Yes, we are a 501(c)(3) recognized charity by the IRS. Our tax ID is: 54-1786116. All donations made to 4Paws Rescue Team will be properly acknowledged and receipted for your personal records.

Read all our financial documentation here.

What are 4Paws funding sources?

The majority of 4Paws’ funding comes from generous cat lovers like yourself. Donations from the general public make up approx 80% of our income; the rest comes from adoption fees.

4Paws participates in Combined Federal Campaign (CFC#34517), Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC# 200063), Amazon Smile, United Way (#34517), igive.com, GoodSearch.com, and GoodShop.com.

Individuals can donate online using www.paypal.com and donorbox.com or can mail a donation to 4Paws, P.O. Box 2908, Merrifield, VA 22116.

I found a stray cat, what do I do?
  • First, try to approach the cat, is it friendly, can you pet it? If you cannot touch the cat then put out food and water to entice the cat to stay in the area.
  • Next take actions to look for the owner.
    • Contact the local shelter and file a “found animal report.”  
    • Post signs (with a photo if possible).
    • Post online such as community sites like Next-door.
  • Continue to provide food and water while trying to gain the cat’s trust.
  • If you can get the cat into a carrier, bring him into your own and set him up in a room/bathroom away from other pets.

If no owner is found then 4Paws can help you find a home for the cat, but you will need to continue caring for the cat in your home.  Contact 4Paws at foster@fourpaws.org or 703-715-6369 for information on next steps.  4Paws will pay for vet care as long as you can continue to care for the cat.

When I donate monetarily, what is my money supporting?

When you make a monetary donation, you are helping to pay for wellness and illness veterinary care. All of our cats are treated for parasites, receive vaccines appropriate for their ages, and are spayed or neutered when old enough. Many cats are sick when we rescue them. The are treated for a variety of conditionss including upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, and injuries. Funds are also used to purchase supplies for our cats. 4Paws pays for food and litter for many of our cats when the are displayed for adoption or while they are getting ready for adoption.

How do I donate non-monetary gifts?

You can email us at info@fourpaws.org to set up a time and location to drop off your donation.

Where do I send donation in cash or check?

You can send them to the following address:

4Paws Rescue Team, Inc.
P.O Box 2908
Merrifield, VA 22116

I have a large item I’d like to donate. Where can I drop it off?

You can email us at info@fourpaws.org to set up a time and location to drop off your donation.

What is your Tax ID number?

EIN: 54-1786116

Are there perks if I donate and retired?

Yes! There are opportunities specifically available to retirees who want to donate to 4Paws. Firstly, IRA holders who are at least 70½ years old can distribute a portion of their Required Minimum Distribution directly to 4Paws and enjoy some special tax benefits. Ask your accountant about Qualified Charitable Distributions. Secondly, retired government employees can donate to 4Paws from their monthly retirement distributions. Through Combined Federal Campaign, retirees choose 4Paws by designating CFC #34517

What are all the ways I can give?

Cash, check, PayPal, Donorbox, Amazon Smile, Amazon and Chewy wishlists, fostering, volunteering. See our donate page for more information.

Foster Questions

How do I become a foster parent?

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent please fill out the 4Paws Foster Contract.

What costs are covered?

4Paws covers the cost of veterinary treatment at a 4Paws partner vet. All vet visits must be pre-authorized by 4Paws. We work with a number of vets in Northern Virginia. Fosters will be notified when a vaccination, microchip, or spay/neuter needs to be scheduled. 

What qualifications do I need in order to foster a pet?

You must have a room where you can keep the cat isolated. You will need to have transportation in order to take them to vet visits. You will also need to take them to adoption fairs which are usually held once each month in Northern Virginia pet stores. You will provide food, shelter and love; 4Paws pays for pre-authorized vet services.

What assurance do I have that my new foster cat is healthy?

4Paws makes every effort to deliver healthy cats to foster homes. Rescue cats are commonly pulled from shelters where they may have been exposed to something, such as an upper respiratory infection (URI). Because you will spend more time with them than shelter employees, you may also discover that something is bothering them, such as itchy ears, diarrhea, etc.

We provide the following standard services to all incoming cats:

  • Distemper vaccines
  • Rabies vaccine at 13-16 weeks of age
  • Treat for fleas and worms
  • Test for FIV and Feline Leukemia
  • Spay/neuter after 5 months of age
  • Microchip
What costs will I be responsible for?
  • Food (unless the cat eats prescription food, which then 4Paws will provide)
  • Litter and litter box
  • Cat bed and toys
Where should I keep my foster cat?

Please keep your foster cat in a separate room that’s nice and quiet with a comfy place to sleep; being in a separate room will help the cat feel safe and comfortable.  Some cats will need to stay in the room where they start, permanently separated from other pets. In some cases, you may be able to gradually introduce your foster cat to other pets.  We can advise you on how to properly integrate your foster cat, if appropriate.

Can I take my cat outside?

Your foster cat must be kept inside at all times. It’s also important that you not allow access to open windows—even partially opened windows with screens; cats are quite good at maneuvering their way through small openings!

How do I adopt a cat or kitten from foster care?

If you wish to adopt a cat or kitten from one of our foster homes please check our adoption page.

How long should I expect to foster the cat(s)?

The commitment can vary from a few weeks to a couple of months depending upon the needs of the cat.

Can I foster if I have pets already living with me?

Yes! Foster cats will need to be kept in a room separated from your own pets. Cats that come from our partner shelters can have illnesses that may not be immediately apparent despite having previous medical care.

Adoption Questions

How do I apply to adopt a cat?

You can fill out the adoption application.

I’ve completed an adoption form, now what?

You will be contacted by a 4Paws volunteer. It may take 2 or 3 days.

How much is the adoption fee to adopt a cat?

Our adoption fee is $175.00 for a sterilized cat. The adoption fee for an unsterilized cat is $200.00, which includes a $125 adoption fee and a $75 refundable sterilization deposit.

Do you have any adoption specials?

Yes! Cats eight years-old or older have a reduced fee of $60 and bonded and neutered/spayed pairs at least 5 years of age have a reduced fee of $125 each.

Will my cat be fully vaccinated and spayed/neutered beforehand?

All cats have been vaccinated prior to adoption, as appropriate for their age. Most cats have been sterilized. 4Paws does NOT vaccinate for feline leukemia. If your cat requires vaccines and/or sterilization (spay or neuter) prior to adoption, this will already be included as a part of your adoption fee.

What happens if the cat I adopt isn’t working out?

A cat rescued by 4Paws is a cat rescued for life. We will always accept back any cat previously adopted out through our program. You may return the cat for a refund if we are notified within 30 days of the adoption date.

As indicated in the contract, if for any reason and at any point in the future you cannot keep the cat, you are REQUIRED to return the cat to 4Paws. This is part of the contractual agreement between you and 4Paws. To return an animal, you must contact us beforehand. Do not call a partner store adoption location. They have no authority or ability to accept a cat on behalf of 4Paws or issue a refund.

Can I see your cats in person?

Yes, our cats can be found in various pet stores and in foster homes. See the list of adoption locations and events to find out more.

How do I know which cat is best for me?

We can help you navigate this. Email us at adoption@fourpaws.org to get in touch with us about this.

Can I get my adoption fee refunded if my new pet doesn’t work out?

A cat rescued by 4Paws is a cat rescued for life. We will always accept back any cat previously adopted out through our program. You may return the cat for a refund if we are notified within 30 days of the adoption date. We may suggest another cat instead of the one you specified in your application, depending on your lifestyle and household. Our goal is to make the best match possible.

I found a pet that I want to adopt but I am not sure if they will work in my home with my other pets. Do you do trial adoptions?

No. But we can council you on the best way to introduce a new pet into the home. If it does not work we will always take the cat back. Your adoption fee can be refunded within 30 day of adoption.

Barn Cat Questions

What is a barn cat?

We rescue feral cats destined for euthanasia from rural shelters and find barn homes for them as well as cats that are too shy and skittish to be adopted into homes. Adoption cost is waived for these cats. We take care of the vaccinations, sterilize these animals, and will bring them to you with food and supplies. Learn more here.

How much does it cost to adopt a barn cat?

There is no fee for barn cat adoptions.

Are they spayed or neutered and have vaccines?

All barn cats have been spayed or neutered and will receive rabies and distemper vaccines.

What do barn cats require?

Barn cats are placed in barns or garages. They will work for food and a warm place to live.

Barn cats will be delivered to their new homes with all supplies to start the relocation process. Supplies include an adequate start up supply of food, food and water dishes, cat litter, and bed. The acclimation process takes time, so caretakers have to be patient and understanding and be willing to follow guidance.

Barn cats placed by 4Paws are semi-feral and non-aggressive ferals that were rescued from public shelters because they were considered unadoptable as indoor pets. They will arrive with their vet records and there is no adoption fee for barn cats.

Volunteering Questions

How do I become a volunteer?

To become a 4Paws volunteer, please fill out this volunteer contract.

I’ve completed the online volunteer application, now what?

You will be contacted by a 4Paws volunteer. It may take up to a week.

What is the time commitment for a volunteer?

Different volunteer activities require varying degrees of commitment, ranging from 30-minutes per week to in-home foster care.

How can I learn about volunteer opportunities?

To stay updated on urgent volunteer requests, follow us on Facebook and check out our volunteer page.

Is there an age limit volunteering?

Pet store and adoption fair volunteers must be at least 18 or volunteer with a parent.

I have another question.

For more information, please contact us.