THIS month marks Adoptober, when the RSPCA urges people to adopt don’t shop and shines a light on the rescue animals looking for forever homes in RSPCA care.

The past year has seen a huge surge in pet ownership and the RSPCA rehomed 28,740 animals in 2020 - with 1,162 rehomed in Wales.

The Adoptober scheme is offering advice on understanding how pets are feeling, in a bid to keep the nation's pets happy and healthy and prevent animals from needing rehoming.

Dr Sam Gaines, head of the companion animals team at the RSPCA, said: “There has been a boom in pet ownership during the pandemic and whilst it’s great to see so many pets becoming a real source of comfort during the last year, it’s important that we remember that our mental health can impact on that of our pets and we need to make sure we consider their mental health and know how they are feeling.

“From changes in their behaviour to their body language, our pets can give us insight into their mental wellbeing and it’s important that as pet owners we know how to spot these signs and act on them.”

As dog owners go back to offices, the charity is concerned that some dogs may struggle to adapt to being left alone for short periods. One of the major reasons that dogs are relinquished is due to behaviour problems and research suggests that 85% of dogs may be affected by separation related behaviours - which is why it's important to be able to spot the signs if your dog is unhappy.

The RSPCA suggested signs of an unhappy dog include standing with a stiffened body posture, tucked tail and ears pinned back.

Most cats like routine and a disruption to this routine, like us returning to work and being absent from home, may leave some feeling stressed or anxious. Fighting for resources with other cats, a change to their food or litter, a house move, or a new pet, are all factors which could lead to your cat becoming distressed. A cat’s body language is much more subtle and so it is important to regularly observe your cat, understand what is normal behaviour for them and when that behaviour might be different so you know how they’re feeling.

Signs of a worried or unhappy cat, according the the RSPCA, include lying down, body is flattened and ears are flattened to the head, pupils are dilated, mouth is open and tense, and their teeth are showing.

Rabbits can often be a misunderstood pet because people assume that they are simple to care for. Rabbits are complex, social animals who can become distressed when they don’t have another rabbit friend, or the space they need to exercise and plenty of enrichment. Like cats, their body language can be subtle so it is good to get to know how your rabbits normally behave so that you can recognise when there are changes.

The RSPCA says the body language of a worried or unhappy rabbit include sitting up on its back legs with front paws raised displaying boxing behaviour, ears may be held against their back and mouth open and teeth visible.

For more information about Adoptober, visit the

To see the animals for rehoming visit