Photo courtesy of Heart of Glass Animal Rescue.

It’s kitten season! 

As city streets fill up with stray cats this summer, we thought it was the right time to share some of the best animal shelters and rescues in our region — feline-focused and otherwise — for you to find a new furry family member.

As with any big life decision, knowing where to begin when searching for a new pet can be overwhelming. From organizations that rescue and rehabilitate abandoned pets to groups committed to raising awareness about responsible pet ownership, these shelters and rescues are at the forefront of creating a brighter future for animals. 

Not looking for a new pet right now, but want to help out? Many of these organizations need volunteers, donations and other aid from the community. 

Did you know you can rent out the play yard at Animal Friends for some puppy playtime? Photo courtesy of Animal Friends.

Animal Friends 

562 Camp Horne Road, Ben Avon Heights

Animal Friends, whose slogan is “thinking outside the cage,” has been around since the 1940s. With a focus on “companion animal welfare,” Animal Friends also offers low-cost pet medical care from vaccine appointments and spay/neutering procedures to wellness checks. Its focus on pet retention — keeping pets with their original owners when possible — includes a pet food bank and financial assistance for pet owners in need. Be sure to review the adoption guidelines before applying for any of the dogs, cats or rabbits available. Already have an energetic buddy at home? Animal Friends rents out its play yard for puppy playtime. 

Animal Advocates

35 Wabash St., Elliott

Animal Advocates is a primarily foster-based, all-volunteer organization that has been caring for Pittsburgh dogs and cats since 1984. The nonprofit’s Senior to Senior foster program offers a way for people ages 65 and older to forge a bond with an animal without some of the barriers to having a pet such as cost. Animal Advocates will cover the costs for food, treats, litter, veterinary care and other necessities while the animal stays with a senior. All of the proceeds from Animal Advocates’ thrift shop goes to the care of the animals in foster care or any of the kitties living at the Wabash Street location.

Two pitbulls stare back at the camera
Photo courtesy of Biggies Bullies.

Biggies Bullies 

600 E. Warrington Ave., Allentown (Office only; no animals on the premises)

Got a soft spot for bully breeds? Biggies is the place for you. The foster-based rescue aims to rehome “Pitbull-type dogs” in the Pittsburgh area with love and compassion. Founded by Alli Stetz in 2011, the organization focuses on “positive force-free, science-based training, and the importance of spaying and neutering.” In addition to fostering, Biggies offers pet hospice care and affordable, high-quality pet food through Hungry Hippo’s Pet Food Pantry. Biggies Bullies is hosting its next fundraising event, Big Tips for Cute Pits!, on Aug. 21 at Abjuration Brewing in McKees Rocks.

Heart of Glass Rescue 

99 S. 10th St., South Side (animal visits by appointment only)

Longtime animal lover Nicola Hill-Solomon founded Heart of Glass as a way to turn caring for animals into a lifestyle. The foster-based rescue takes in “all animals despite their physical, mental or behavioral challenges. The dogs and cats cared for by Heart of Glass are all varieties of breed, age and ability. The rescue collects donations online and through fundraising events — the next one is Going to Bat for the Animals, when $5 from every ticket purchased for the Pirates game on Aug. 26 benefits Heart of Glass. Interested donors can also sponsor a specific animal and receive photo and video updates on the cat or dog. 

Bowtie the cat is available for adoption at Humane Animal Rescue. Photo courtesy of Humane Animal Rescue.

Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

East Side Campus, 6926 Hamilton Ave., Homewood
North Side Campus, 1101 Western Ave., North Side
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 6000 Verona Road, Verona

Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh is the largest and maybe the most well-known of all Pittsburgh animal shelters. It provides comprehensive services including adoption, behavior and training classes, and medical care at two low-cost, high-quality veterinary medical centers. Foster a pet in need of a home or adopt any of the cats, dogs or rabbits living in the shelter.

Kitty Queen Cat Rescue

4552 McKnight Road, Suite 400, Summer Hill / Reserve Township

Definitely more of a cat person? You’ll love Kitty Queen Cat Rescue. Hang out with potential new friends in the Cat Lounge before you adopt, or if you just need some quality feline face time. The motto of the no-kill shelter is “no cat left behind” — the volunteer staff there takes care of any homeless, unwanted or special needs cats in western Allegheny County. If you (like me) can’t possibly take in more cats but want to help cats in need, Kitty Queen’s Amazon wish list is full of items the shelter needs.

Paws Across Pittsburgh

100% foster-based rescue; no physical address

Foster-based rescue Paws Across Pittsburgh prides itself on its diligent screening process for potential pet adopters, says founder Jackie Armour. The volunteers and foster parents get to know each and every animal so that they can recommend a new home that best suits each pet’s needs, temperament and lifestyle. The LOVS (Life of Veterinarian Support) program for senior and special needs pets is a special part of Paws Across Pittsburgh. “If a dog has an ongoing condition, we would cover the cost of that condition and whatever medications are needed to keep that dog healthy for the lifetime of the dog,” says Armour, even after the dog moves to its permanent home. The organization’s fifth annual Strut with Your Mutt fundraiser is Sept. 16 in Gibsonia.

Photo courtesy of Rescue and Relax.

Rescue and Relax 

117 Edgewood Ave., Edgewood

Rescue and Relax is a three-part cat rescue: “part cat lounge, part rescue shelter, part resource hub for cat lovers.” They have plenty of adoptable cats (of course), and the staff is serious about making sure each cat goes to a loving home. The multi-step adoption process includes an application, checking veterinary and personal references, and a kitty meet-and-greet. The lounge operates on a pay-what-you-can system — there is no fee to spend time with the cats there, only a suggested donation. Don’t miss the rescue’s many events, including a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and cat yoga. 

Photo courtesy of Sara’s Pets and Plants.

Sara’s Pets and Plants 

908 Main St., Sharpsburg

Cats and dogs aren’t the only types of pets we love. The small Sharpsburg pet supply store and rescue caters to animals with feathers, tails and scales. Sara’s rescue cares for small mammals (ferrets, hamsters, rats, etc.), birds and reptiles — there is even a tarantula available for adoption. Inside the store, they sell supplies for those types of animals plus treats and toys for dogs and cats. The first Thursday of every month is Animal Trivia Night at nearby Hitchhiker Brewing in Sharpsburg, and the $10 entry fee goes to Sara’s Pets and Plants.

A woman holds her new puppy from South Hills Pet Rescue
Photo courtesy of South Hills Pet Rescue.

South Hills Pet Rescue

15 Old 88, South Park

Nick Ferraro and Ashley Rittle started South Hills Pet Rescue in 2013 after taking in 62 dogs at what was then the South Hills Pet Resort, filling all the kennels and then some. Many of the dogs had been on euthanasia lists at other shelters for behavioral issues, but Ferraro and Rittle rehabilitated, cared for and rehomed all of the dogs. These days, South Hills Pet Rescue has a variety of dogs available for adoption.

Cristina Holtzer is NEXTpittsburgh's Digital Editor. When she’s not laughing too hard at TikTok, Crissy can be found working on her novel or playing the Sims. Read her work in Everyday Health, The Kitchn, Pittsburgh Magazine, Inc and more.