Adopting A Cat Donating Volunteer with 4Paws Photo Center About 4Paws Online Adoption Fair
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The 4Paws Rescue Team is a non-profit community-based all-volunteer organization that takes in neglected, abandoned, abused and unwanted cats and kittens. After providing appropriate veterinary care, these previously homeless animals are adopted into permanent, loving homes. An animal rescued by 4Paws will never be euthanized, except out of medical necessity.

4Paws is run entirely by volunteers. We have no rent or salaries to pay; more than 90% of our revenue each year is used to pay for veterinary services, medical supplies and pet supplies—expenditures directly benefiting the cats that we rescue. The remaining funds are used for administrative functions such as printing, postage and telephone service.
On average, it costs more than $150 for 4Paws to ready a healthy cat for adoption:

  • Rabies and distemper vaccines ($20 - $30 each vaccine)
  • Feline Leukemia and FIV testing ($40 - $60)
  • De-worming and flea treatment ($15 - $25)
  • Neuter or spay ($60 – $90)

As you can see, the $140 adoption fee received by 4Paws for an adult cat falls far short of covering the veterinary costs provided to a healthy sterilized cat. If a cat were sick when rescued—stress related illnesses such as diarrhea or upper respiratory infections are quite common—the vet bills could easily be double those of a healthy cat. This is why your donations are so important to our ability to save feline lives.

During fiscal year 2007, adoption fees represented only 15% of 4Paws' total revenue. Your donations are the primary source of operating funds for the organization. Last year, more than 84% of 4Paws' revenue came from donations from the general public and Combined Federal Campaign (workplace giving by federal government employees). Please, if you have a cat you love, know someone who loves cats or sympathize with the plight of homeless cats, consider giving a donation to the 4Paws Rescue Team. Out of every dollar donated, 92c is used to directly benefit our rescued cats.

Cats Adopted:

This past fiscal year was filled with many, so many, challenges. More than 300 cats and kittens were rescued and placed into new homes. These previously homeless animals were permanently adopted by families whose lives, like those of the pets themselves, were improved through the 4Paws Adoption Program.

The cats that were adopted out during FY 2007 came from local shelters, owners who could no longer care for their pets, military personnel deployed overseas, and local neighborhood streets. Because 4Paws pledges a lifetime commitment to every cat rescued, if an adopter can no longer care for his pet, the organization will take that cat back into the adoption program.

4Paws is a “no kill” shelter which means that 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.

Foster home volunteers are the foundation of 4Paws. The number of foster homes determines the number of feline lives that we can save. Foster volunteers provide temporary housing to cats and kittens that have been scheduled for euthanasia in over-crowded animal shelters. Some of these cats, especially the young ones, have never known a warm home or regular meals. Others have lived their entire lives in the comforts of a home only, to one day, find themselves thrust into a metal cage waiting to die. (Click here for more information about fostering a cat.)

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 8 to 10 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters each year. According to the National Council on Pet Population study, 71%of cats and kittens entering shelters each year are killed. In many cases, they are euthanized simply because these facilities do not have the space or resources to care for the many homeless animals surrendered to them.

This is why, to the extent that we have foster space available, 4Paws focuses on rescuing cats from animal shelters, focusing on facilities with high kill rates and low (sometimes no) adoptions. We believe that we make the greatest impact by taking cats directly from the clutches of death—sweet and innocent cats and kittens scheduled for euthanasia in over-crowded facilities.

As the word gets out, workers at more and more animal shelters are contacting 4Paws about cats and kittens in their facilities that have been slated for imminent death. Last year, we rescued cats from shelters in the DC area as well as from facilities in more rural areas such as Giles, Fluvanna, and Madison counties in Virginia and Carroll and Tricounty shelters in Maryland. Localities outside of the Metro area have great difficulty placing abandoned animals into permanent homes. Consequently, the euthanasia rates tend to higher for shelters in these outlying areas. 4Paws makes an effort, whenever possible, to take cats from these rural shelters.

4Paws cats are adopted out primarily through four venues:

  1. Adoption fairs held approximately twice each month provide an opportunity for cats in foster care to be seen by potential adopters;
  2. Temporary placement in local Petco stores allows gives the cats more visibility as they await adoption into a permanent home;
  3. On the website, the online adoption fair highlights many cats as they appear in the comforts of their foster homes; and
  4. Local vet clinics in Fairfax, Burke, and Clifton display 4Paws kittens available for adoption.

This past year, adoption fairs were held at five locations—Petco stores in Chantilly, Fairfax, Stafford and Tyson's Corner as well as Wylie Wagg pet store in Fairfax. All year round, Petco stores in Alexandria, Burke, Chantilly, Fairfax, and Tyson's Corner provide space for 4Paws cats to be better seen by the public. Volunteers take care of the cats twice daily while they await adoption.

The virtual adoption fair, which can be seen on the organization’s website at, allows cats that do not adapt well to noisy stores or adoption fairs to be seen as they truly are in the comfort of their foster homes. 4Paws continues to post cats available for adoption on national websites designed for the purpose of promoting rescued animals. The most successful of those sites is The following is a breakdown of adoptions listed by the various venues:

  • Adoption fairs 34%
  • Foster homes and vet offices 25%
  • Petco stores 24%
  • Online resources 17%

To cover at least a portion of the costs associated with caring for the cats before permanent homes are found, adoption fees are charged: $120 for an adult cat and the fee for an unsterilized kitten is $145 which includes a deposit of $50 that is returned after the owner provides proof of sterilization.

Adoption fees cover less than half of the cost of the veterinary care necessary to ready a healthy cat for adoption. Medical care for injury and disease (i.e., diarrhea, upper respiratory, and flea induced anemia) also drain a large portion of the organization’s financial resources.

4Paws relies on the generosity of you, the public, to cover those costs that exceed the amount recovered with adoption fees. Last year 4Paws spent almost $115,000 on medical care for our cats.

While financial support is vital, the life saving work of the 4Paws Rescue Team would not be possible without the help of approximately 120 volunteers who dedicate a portion of their free time to improving the lives of homeless cats. Volunteers perform a variety of functions including fostering homeless cats, caring for cats in Petco stores, assisting at adoption fairs, and fielding calls on the 4Paws hotline.

Community education is also a very important aspect of the work done by 4Paws. Throughout the year, volunteers respond to inquires about cat care and behavior issues, giving suggestions about food, litter and other supplies that are most appropriate for particular situations.

A team of volunteers visits local elementary schools and talks to students about responsible pet care. 4Paws cats are taken to the schools during these visits in order to demonstrate proper care and handling techniques. For the past 8 years, the first grade classes at Forestville Elementary have sponsored year-long donation drives to collect food, litter and other supplies for our rescued cats.

We are grateful for the generosity of those children, their families, and all of you that wish to improve the lives of homeless cats and kittens. Thank you.

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