Cats - wild versus domestic

Again, I have a problem with wild versus domestic in one specific case. I have made several photos of domestic cats, which are roaming freely though I know definitely they are not even feral and mark them as domestic. Then some users mark them as wild and the observations get RG category and go to GBIF showing that in certain areas there are wild domestic cats, sometimes even in the places where it is climatically impossible. I wrote comments on that, there was no reaction. I think now that the only way I can deal with the problem is to delete all my OBs of domestic cats marked as wild by other users, so that erroneous information does not reach GBIF, at least from my account on iNat.


You’ve done everything right. My only suggestion is to add a comment about why the cat should be marked as not wild preemptively rather than after the fact.

You can just tag another user to add a “not wild” vote to override the erroneous vote. I went ahead and added a vote to the relevant observations so they should no longer be RG.


Not to be insensitive to the issue at hand but… maybe iNaturalist (“engage with nature”, “wildlife” etc.) is not the bestest site to store photos of pets/plants that only the photographer knows (how confidently? from what evidence?) to have been ‘captive/cultivated’ at the time of the photo?


The OP was contributing to a specific project documenting outdoor domestic animals. As long as observations are marked appropriately by the OP, there is no reason why such observations should not be added. Casual Grade does not always mean “not used for research”. There are many projects that collect specific CG observations for research purposes.


I post only very few photos of domestic animals and cultivated plants and all of them only for the purposes of Domesticated biodiversity project or Biodiversity in food markets. I think, these projects are very interesting and very much usable - for many aims.


Thank you for your help.


You can @mention me.
I am grateful for all your lichen IDs.


I missed that part from the OP, sorry.

Still, it’s unclear to me on what grounds a project should deviate from the usual iNaturalist “rules” about wild/captive/cultivated?! especially if such ‘outdoor domestic animals project’ observations show up among other observations on the site, and lack appropriate evidence of individuals being captive or not.
(I know that ‘casual grade obs are usable for research too’… but it is off-topic here.)

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I agree, but I did not see links to the contentious obs (or projects, for that matter) in the OP. Sorry.

I do not know whether the links to projects are visible in app. I only use internet page version where all links are visible on the observation page.

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They don’t deviate from iNat’s rules. The rules say that such observations should be marked as “not wild”, not that they shouldn’t be added or that they shouldn’t be used in projects. Otherwise, having CG observations in a project wouldn’t be possible.

iNat is primarily meant for wild organisms.

does not say “iNat is solely for wild organisms.” Captive/cultivated organisms are only a problem when the observer doesn’t mark them as such (assuming they aren’t uploading thousands of such observations with no real purpose). I sometimes upload observations of cultivate plants (appropriately marked) when I observe wild organisms interacting with them (e.g., Cedar Waxwings eating fruit from a cultivated shrub).

Because they often don’t lack appropriate evidence. Typically, truly feral cats look quite different from indoor-outdoor cats (don’t have the appearance of being cared for).

Also, having observations erroneously marked as CG is much less serious than observations erroneously marked as RG. If you search other threads where people bring up certain fringe cases, iNat staff has said many times “use your (meaning the observer) best judgement”.


I used “should” in a question. I did NOT say that they deviate. I did not state iNat is “sole[l]y”. I did not mention feral cats or their appearance (a moot point, since escaped pets are not feral). Please pay attention, and don’t assume too much :) And I’m 100% with you, and all for having CG Obs in projects, and all that. That’s not the point.

Also, I can’t see mentions or links of any project or obs in the OP. Probably a bug on my side.

To play Devil’s Advocate here, aren’t all outdoor cats kind of feral? Just wild animals taking advantage of the hospitality of humans? I mean, they roam wherever they please, killing tons of prey, interacting with the local Feral Cat in population in many ways (territory, mating, ect.). They can leave any time they want.


No worry, I also use the website on a PC in a rather normal browser (Chromium).
Throughout this thread in the forum, I see people referring to a project and various observations… but can not see any link to any project or to any observation. I’m not sure whether it’s a bug (it used to work before) or if I disabled something in the settings?!

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I think, this description from Wikipedia answers the question: Certain familiar animals go feral easily and successfully, while others are much less inclined to wander and usually fail promptly outside domestication. Some species will detach readily from humans and pursue their own devices, but do not stray far or spread readily. Others depart and are gone, seeking out new territory or range to exploit and displaying active invasiveness. Whether they leave readily and venture far, the ultimate criterion for success is longevity. Persistence depends on their ability to establish themselves and reproduce reliably in the new environment.


I was surprised to find this wasn’t specifically addressed in iNat’s definition of captive/cultivated. I guess I was getting confused with eBird’s more explicit definition:

free-roaming pets that return to houses and farms each night (such as peafowl and domestic chickens), should not be reported on eBird checklists.

I don’t necessarily think free-roaming pet cats should be marked as wild, but I do think this highlights the utility of observations of free-roaming pet cats.

None of my replies have been personal attacks and all have addressed reasonable assumptions as to the implications of your comments. I’d appreciate good-faith discussion in return. Thanks.


All my comments are in good faith and relate to the contents of the OP only. I also genuinely can’t see any link there to observations and/or a “specific project documenting outdoor domestic animals” you and the OP appear to be referring to. (screenshot.)

My initial message was thus dealing with the topic at hand with the elements at hand - not feralization in mammals or the relevance of casual-grade obs to scientific research (which I 100% agree with), not assuming anything about any observation. I also sincerely can’t figure why observations of Felis catus individuals seen roaming as they please with no evidence of captivity, and therefore being labelled as wild by identifiers (according to iNat definitions of ‘wild’)… can be problematic - project or not, research-worthy or not.
Or is it? Hence my question about any project(s)that would/could somehow deviate from the accepted “rules” and level of “evidence” put in place for captive/wild distinction, and what such a “blurring of the lines” could imply.

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I also have to ask, where have you observed cats that you think feral populations are “climatically impossible”? I’ve encountered Feral Cats everywhere from boreal forests to tropical lowland jungles to deserts, so where on Earth is there a climate that cats could not find suitable, outside of Antarctica?


I consider “wild” feral cats only these that, following the description I gave above, have longevity of population and are able to to persist and reproduce without human assistance or even proximity. Which is not possible in boreal regions or even hemiboreal zone where I live.


There are definitely Feral Cat populations like you describe in boreal regions in North America, which is much colder than the boreal region in Europe. Looking at your observations, looks like you’re in Lithuania or somewhere near there? In most of Lithuania, average minimum temperature is about -13F (-25C). Feral Cat populations persist in North America in regions much colder than that.

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