TAMARA TALKS: Cats should not be trapped indoors because of our fears
When you speak for those who can't or won't speak for themselves it's so important to use your voice carefully and in the right way.
It could be a child, animal, elderly person or somebody with a disability or suffering a tragedy whose issues you champion, as an individual or as part of a group like a charity or a non-government organisation.
Either way, the subject is counting on you to do a good job. Those we speak up for are often the ones who need help the most, and that’s why there is no room for mistakes.
It’s for that reason I was really disappointed to discover Peta – the largest animal rights organisation in the world and a charity I support – making careless comments online, causing it to lose support.
With a link attached, the charity’s American Twitter account said: ‘Another reason to keep your cats indoors! New study shows outdoor cats are killing over 80 species of animals.’
Throughout my 24 years of life I’ve owned three cats, all of which have loved being able to go outside. You don’t have to be a cat owner to know it’s natural for them to be outdoors where they thrive, hunt and play.
If a cat doesn’t want to go outside it’s not so cruel. But, like many other cat owners I know, if I went home today and shut mine in for the rest of his life, he would become totally distressed – something that, even with the risks involved in letting a cat outside, is not at all ethical.
Yes, we worry because cats can catch diseases, be attacked or get hit by vehicles, but so can we. What good would it be if we all stayed indoors for the rest of our lives through the fear of something bad happening? Our own peace of mind is not worth making our pets unhappy.
My first thought was that this couldn’t possibly be the opinion of such a well-respected charity which fights tooth and nail for animals, and that the person behind the tweet would be told off. But after a response from me and a few other Twitter users, it was clear the comments weren’t mistakes as the charity continued to back its point.
It was a shame to see other tweeters reply, rightfully so, with comments like: ‘This is why I don’t take Peta seriously’, and ‘What awful advice, I’m unfollowing you,’ showing the damage the irresponsible comments had done.
Don’t get me wrong, Peta has done some fantastic work and as an animal lover I champion what it does, but it has a duty to use its voice correctly at all times and in a way that doesn’t lose support.
If you speak for another, be sure to do it properly.
• 24-year-old Tamara Siddiqui is a journalist at The News. Read her views on life as a modern woman in an ever-changing world every Tuesday, online or in the newspaper.