Foster Program

AWLA Foster Program

AWLA Kitten College

Kitten College Apprenticeship Program

AWLA Foster Program

AWLA Foster volunteers have helped thousands of animals over the last 13 years. Temporarily caring for an animal in your home allows our shelter to take in more animals that need help. In-home care by a dedicated foster parent also offers the individual attention that is just what our most vulnerable animals need. Foster parents are special people who selflessly open their homes to give animals a new chance at life.  This is not an easy task, but the impact on animals is incredible.

There are hundreds of kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, and small companion animals each year  who need our help. As a foster volunteer you may host animals with special medical or behavioral needs, mother animals with nursing litters, or orphaned animals who need special feeding and socialization, like puppies or kittens. By fostering animals you are directly preparing them for adoption into loving homes.

If you have room in your home and in your heart, please consider becoming a part of our team. The League provides all supplies, there is no minimum time requirement, and we are happy to help people find their niche. Fostering offers you the opportunity to volunteer in the comfort of your own home as many or as few times throughout the year as you’d like.

To get started as a foster, please take the Foster Program AssessmentIf you can’t foster right now but want to help, please donate items from our wishlist.

Kitten College

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has opened the regions first neonatal kitten nursery in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area!

Local support and fundraising can help us save many more kittens at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Kitten College.  The response to our program and services has been overwhelming as we have been able to assist under-served areas and shelters forced to euthanized kittens on intake.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is one of the only municipal shelters in the nation that takes in kittens from other jurisdictions. In fact, AWLA takes in just a very few kittens from Arlington Co, thanks to our highly successful trap-neuter-return program that has greatly reduced the population of feral cats. Instead, the Kitten College answers the needs of shelters and groups in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. We take in orphaned and sick kittens that require bottle-feeding and specialized care; some remain in the College for intensive care, while others go to our expansive network of foster caregivers.

The Kitten College opened in late July 2017 and by year’s end had taken in 356 kittens from newborn to eight weeks old; during the entire previous year (2016) AWLA took in 92 kittens of the same age. By the end of 2019 that number had increased to almost 1400 while maintaining our 93% live release rate!

Please FILL OUT THIS FORM if you would like to become a part of the Kitten College Foster Program!

Kitten College Apprenticeship Program

In 2017, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington set out to help address a regional need to save kittens from euthanasia simply for being too young to thrive in a shelter environment. We turned two storage closets into a small nursery where we hoped to house as many kittens slated for euthanasia as we could. Prior to the nursery opening in 2016, the shelter took in 92 kittens. After a generous donation from a private donor and focused attention from staff, we were able to save almost 1400 kittens in calendar year 2019. You can do this too, and we are here to help!

There are two ways to learn:

1. Come to us!
AWLA offers an onsite apprenticeship to shelter and rescue staff from all over the country. These visitors are welcomed into our facility to learn how a smaller municipal shelter was able to utilize existing resources to go from saving 92 kittens a year, to 1400!

This is a full day where you will have the following opportunities:

  • Shadow nursery staff and learn what went into the initial phases of building the program and the physical nursery.
  • Spend time with the shelter vet to learn AWLA’s kitten protocols.
  • Visit with our development team to learn how we are able to raise money and awareness from our kittens.
  • Meet with the shelter CEO to learn how the program addresses community needs and how to address community and/or board specific concerns.

This apprenticeship is free, you only need to cover the cost of your travel.

2. We will come to you!
Is there a larger group of rescues locally that may benefit from this information? Would you like more of your staff to be trained and the cost of sending multiple people to our onsite Apprenticeship would be prohibitive? We can come to you. AWLA will send our National Kitten College Program Administrator to your facility to spend an entire day covering the following topics:

  • Taking the fear out of bottle babies- how to train confident fosters
  • Utilize existing resources to address the needs of kittens
  • Building an engaged foster community
  • Cost cutting measures without compromising quality of care
  • Creative foster recruitment
  • How kittens can be a fundraising goldmine

The only cost of this service is the travel expenses incurred by the AWLA staff. It is also limited by availability.

To learn more about either of these opportunities, please email Marnie Russ at

Online Resources for Shelters & Rescues

Caring For Bottle Babies: The Basics (video)
Top Bottle Feeding Tips
Orphaned Kitten Physical Exam
How Old Is That Kitten?