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A Paw in the Door is an all-volunteer, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) cat rehabilitation and rescue organization. We work within our community to provide a safe haven, medical support, foster placement and adoptive homes for cats in need. We depend upon our volunteers, board members, and our Paw Palace completely manned by our volunteer cat companions to care for our cats while they await adoption. We have developed a partnership with local veterinarians at Yarmouth Veterinary Center in Yarmouth, ME who work with us on a case-by-case basis and who continue to impress us with their commitment to our mission.

Our adoption process is thorough. We require references from all of our potential adopters and will do home visits and follow-up visits in most cases. A Paw in the Door will take back any cat we have adopted out with no questions asked. We prioritize the health and well-being of each and every cat that comes to us and are proud to be one of the few local groups who will invest the time and attention to making sure that all of our cats go to homes in which they will be loved and well-cared for for the rest of their lives! Our goal is to ensure a quality life for each and every one of our cats.

Our annual fundraising events include lively auctions, busy yard sales, 4th of July celebrations, sports tournaments and other entertaining, community based gatherings. Our committed volunteers and advisory board members headed by the founder of the organization, Patty Sample Colwell, meet regularly and are actively involved in the individual support of each and every cat that enters our program.

Last year A Paw in the Door found homes for 61 cats. We provided veterinary services to 88 cats, all of which also received full vaccinations, FIV and FELV screening and worm and flea treatments as well as spay or neuter when necessary. We provided ongoing medical care for 18 cats that live with community members. These cats, due to a variety of circumstances are cats that A Paw in the Door is committed to covering all of the veterinary expenses during the lives of each cat as a condition of their adoptions. These are cats with ongoing medical conditions that would have excluded them from adoption without our help.  

Last year we placed fewer cats than the 113 cats placed in the previous year. This is a result of our decision to take on more cats that are less adoptable due to age, traumatic circumstances and health conditions. These cats require longer stays in our care and more extensive & compassionate care in order to trust again or further medical treatments. Also, in an attempt to prioritize spending A Paw in the Door has begun to refer out spay/neuter requests. We continue to recognize spay/neuter as a crucial step in the effort to end the heartbreaking results of domestic animal overpopulation. However because A Paw in the Door is supported entirely by donations we have chosen to conserve and hone our efforts and to rely on other equally committed organizations for spay/neuter services.

A Paw in the Door relies entirely on donations and fundraising events to support our mission. Community support and involvement is crucial to our effectiveness. We could not achieve our mission without the dedicated assistance of our foster home providers, our adoptive families, our veterinarian and business partners, our volunteer network and our generous supporters.

A Paw in the Door was founded in 1986 when Patty Sample Colwell and a stray cat named Aurora formed a partnership. Aurora lived outside and wanted nothing to do with people. Though Patty visited her daily, leaving food and offering shelter, Aurora remained feral, choosing to fend for herself. Over the course of many years Aurora bore numerous litters and Patty worked hard to find homes for each and every kitten. Patty knew Aurora didn’t want a domestic life, but she was committed to providing healthy homes for all of Aurora’s kittens. Eventually there came a day when Aurora grew tired and Patty was able to pick her up and take her home. Aurora lived out the rest of her life in the warmth and safety of Patty’s home. 

Aurora inspired the inception of A Paw in the Door. Patty Sample Colwell set out to define a program that would provide safe homes, spay & neuter support and other medical services to underserved cats. Since 1986 A Paw in the Door has developed a talented and dedicated advisory board, a broad base of countless volunteers and fostered partnerships with many local businesses and veterinarians. A Paw in the Door’s many fundraising events and valuable community support networks have provided thousands of cats the opportunity to live happy and healthy lives.

A Paw in the Door is here to support community members in caring for their own cats by providing non-emergency contacts and support. Alternatively, the Compassionate Care Program has been developed by A Paw in the Door to support the cats that have been taken into Paw’s care; whether they be strays, ferals, surrenders, or cats facing other special circumstances. While A Paw in the Door’s primary objective is to find healthy, permanent homes for the cats that enter our care the Compassionate Care Program is designed to provide complete medical care to the cats in our program during the duration of their stay with us. This includes but may not be limited to initial screenings, FIV/FELV testing, spay and neuter services, distemper and rabies vaccines, flea, ear mite and worm treatment, dentistry and any other services needed to make sure all of our cats go to their foster homes, adoption cart sites and permanent homes in optimum health.


A Paw in the Door will work with adopting families to be sure that all of our cats’ medical needs are met, and continue to be met, especially in cases of special needs animals. We believe in full disclosure and informed decision-making when working with adopters as they consider providing a permanent home and their ability to provide sufficient health care. 


The Compassionate Care Program is the most important service that we offer and also the most costly. We always are in need of contributions to this program. Please consider being a part of this service that brings so much good to our community. Use the Donate button at the bottom of the page to contribute to A Paw in the Door’s Compassionate Care Program.


A Paw in the Door thanks you!

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