Cats and dogs - feral or pets

When I’m identifying pictures in iNat, sometimes I find posts showing cats and dogs. In these cases, I indicate the species and mark it as being not wild. Today I received a response cancelling the “not wild” mark and saying it was not a pet.
After that, I searched the two species in the system and saw that most of the posts of cats and dogs are RG, even those that are evidently pets.
I can understand the importance of collecting information about feral cats and dogs, that can be used to evaluate their impact on the wildlife of the region, but why do we keep records of pets as RG? Is there a rule for this type of post?


If you are 100% sure an observation is of a pet, please mark it as captive.

However, Feral Cats and Dogs should be left as wild. These are more common than most people realize, and I generally recommend giving observations the benefit of the doubt and leaving them as wild unless the animal is really obviously a pet. Definitely never mark a cat or dog observation captive if the observer says it is wild.


Are you sure? You should not mark a cat or a dog as captive if an observer marked them as wild, even though the pet is inside the house or in a garden and with a collar? There are lots of these observations mainly coming from kids or from new users.


Please do not take offense. Everything that is happening is probably part of a social experiment, a consequence of inaccurate translation or the difficulty of transcivilization communications :grinning:

So, there is at least one active user (with the status of curator) who has marked ALL domestic cats uploaded by me as feral. He never responds to my explanations. It seems that this is some kind of social experiment, I don’t know. I don’t really care.

Because of this, I decided not to I decided not to upload cats at all (this is not the intended use of iNat, I know, but cats are so cool, my apologies). But then my child asked and I uploaded, sorry. Marked as domestic (“Организм является диким” - нет :“It-s wild” - No) (female cat on the playground between two apartment buildings, responds to greeting “privet” - “meow”). But the above-mentioned user thinks otherwise (maybe I’m too blinkered and do not take into account the possibility that the cat lives in apartment buildings basement and eats exclusively wild mice, grasshoppers and waste from containers), well, or just continues his social experiment.
Sorry for the unnecessary grumbling.


My general rule is if it has a collar, it’s captive


Welcome to the world of iNaturalist, where everything is wild and hybrid (and Research Grade)!

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Every upload defaults to “wild” if the user doesn’t indicate otherwise, so there are a lot more pets mistakenly marked as wild than ferals mistakenly marked as pets. (unless it’s submitted in an area with enough “captive” voted observations to cause iNat to give the automatic-captive vote) All it takes is someone uploading their pet and someone else clicking “agree” on the ID and it goes to RG. So I’d say a lot of the 55,000ish RG cats on iNat, a lot of them should be marked captive, but who has the time to go through and mark them all as such? If you’re sure it’s a pet, click “not wild”, and if they counter it with a “wild” vote, I’d just let it be until another identifier goes through and weighs in. If it’s ambiguous whether it’s a pet or a feral, I’d just leave it be.


I’ve never seen that happen, but in those cases I think it’s fair to mark captive. Although I do know of one observation that is of a legit Feral Cat inside a building (which I know is feral because I was present when that observation was made).


I fail to see what a ‘social experiment’ could entail here.


This is pretty much what I follow. I’ve come across observations of both cats and dogs clearly in a house and with collars on. Often the dogs- but also cats sometimes- are also looking attentively at the camera, behind which is likely the owner or family. In these cases it is clear the animal is not wild and so I always mark these as captive/cultivated. Usually the observer is a new account with observations in the single or low double digits and is likely trying to “identify” their pet. IE see what the scientific name is or get some sort of breed breakdown, the latter of which iNaturalist does not do as far as I know.

On the other hand, I have also seen observations of- usually- dogs off in the distance or outside a house late at night with no collar and clearly trying to stay hidden. In these cases I give the benefit of the doubt because, as mentioned above, feral dogs and cats certainly do exist and I don’t want to accidentally consign valid observations to the purgatory of “casual” grade.


Are you able to report him for it? If not, I can try to tell him to leave you alone if you want but I doubt it’d do anything.

me. and i do. a lot of them are wrong but a lot of them are more accurate now since somebody is going through it.

the biggest problem is a lot of cases are unclear and observers are unresponsive or unable to respond due to not using the site anymore, so they can’t clarify additional information.


You should mark things as being “not wild” based on the context and not the species alone. If the animal is inside or wearing a collar, you can pretty much confirm it’s not wild. If it’s outside without any clear indication of ownership, you shouldn’t mark it as being “not wild”, because there’s nothing suggesting it is “not wild”. A species being “domestic” doesn’t equate to all individuals being “not wild”, it just means the species has been primarily domesticated. We should mark “wild” or “not wild” based on the individual observed, not the status of the species. It’s a case by case decision we have to make, and it’s not based on the species, but rather the individual.


This is me, I don’t have any shame or need to conceal my decisions about this. I haven’t marked all your cat observations as wild and I also haven’t completed going through them all. I’ve marked a handful of them as such, but mainly the ones I commented on asking if they were wild, or why you marked them as not wild. You did answer a few times, but never just “yes” or “no”, or specific explanations about the cat in the picture, so maybe there is a translation issue confusing me. You gave a quoted statistic about house cats that you linked back to a couple times, but that didn’t really explain the status of the individual cat to me. I thought you were just sharing your opinion on pet cats. You stopped responding to any inquiries, which are looking for clarification so I know what way to vote, so I stopped asking, and I also stopped voting. I was under the impression we simply do not agree on what constitutes an animal being wild or not wild, since many people believe that all cats are “not wild” by definition.

I’m sorry to hear my votes have been upsetting to you. My goal is to give a wide review of all cat observations to help make the data as accurate as possible on the site. Currently, there’s many casual grade observations of stray and feral cats, and many research grade observations of pets. I am going through them all on my own, I make errors sometimes. Or I will vote which way I feel is fit while I await a response from people, since many people never respond at all. That’s not a social experiment or meant to offend anybody, it’s just me trying to make the records more accurate to what the images are depicting and combat misinformation about stray and feral cats.


Ok. Sorry again if I offended you. I usually delete “non-wild” observations I upload if someone re-defines them as wild without arguing with them. These observations are not really needed in the database and are not worth the time. As a result, the database does not get worse.


I’m not offended but I don’t like feeling misunderstood or misrepresented.

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Very good idea! I will delete all my cat OBs where someone marked them as wild when they are not.

All you have to do is countervote, no need to delete


In these circumstances, I will personally admit to bad practice; I ID the clearly captive/cultiavted animals/plants as best I can, leave a comment explaining the purpose of iNat, and don’t immediately vote captive/cultivated, so as not to ‘discourage’ a new user with a ‘casual’ mark. I will then circle back some time later and mark as captive/cultivated.
I know casual/research grade really means nothing, but new users may percieve it as such, and new users should always be welcomed.

Also, this is not a ‘personal vouch’, but in my several interactions with dysm, they have always been constructive and helpful WRT cats. Feral cats are locally important and have terrible effects on wildlife, in addition to the poor health that they suffer. Where appropriate, cats should be marked as accurately as possible.


thanks :)

i am trying to do my best with being thorough and communicative with others. that way, even if i do make an error, it can be caught and corrected since i am commenting to let people know i have a question or am looking for clarification. i don’t always explain myself entirely because i am going through so many observations at a time, it would be extremely time consuming and slow me down a lot, but i know there’s been some misunderstandings about how i choose to vote wild or not wild, and some people think i mark all cats as being wild regardless of context, like collar or being inside or outside, things like that. i am unhappy with that notion because it goes against what my reasoning for going through the observations is to begin with, which is to increase accuracy.

i’ve found there’s a really wide range of beliefs when it comes to cats, and i’m somewhere in the middle and think my approach isn’t too extremist or anything. it’s pretty easy to tell from the post itself that there’s disagreement on what makes an organism wild or not, and cats are especially confusing in that sense. i think there’s a major benefit to somebody combing through them all and applying a consistent approach to every observation. it’s at least going to create a baseline to work with and correct clear cases. i can understand why some people might think my efforts have other motives behind them or think otherwise about me if they never reach out to me or answer me, because then i don’t have the opportunity to explain. so i very much appreciate acknowledgment that suggests i’m reasonable and possible to work with, because i really do strive to be not only accurate and thorough, but responsive and perspicuous.