Often, if fending for themselves, they will congregate to form cat colonies, where member cats band together and enjoy mutual grooming and will hunt and share food amongst colony members.
Cats equally choose to create bonds with humans. As they are territorial animals, they will also indulge in a degree of neighbourhood roaming to establish their day and night territories.
My previous cat, Moggy Boy, extended his territory beyond my front and backyards, right across the front yard as well as halfway into the backyard of my neighbour, Narelle. The back half of her garden was the territory of another cat, who lived in the home behind Narelle's. Moggy Boy and the other cat respected each other's territory and rarely came to blows. Being the very social cat that he was, it was not long before Moggy Boy formed a strong bond with Narelle. He would head to her place as soon as I left for work, hoping she may be at home. There, he would sun himself in her garden, enjoy smooches and even be allowed inside, to play with scraps of paper, bits of string and anything else Narelle, a fellow cat lover, would offer him. Narelle knew Moggy Boy was well fed and chose never to feed him treats and as soon as he heard my car pulling into the driveway, would be home to greet me.
Narelle and I both valued our respective relationships with Moggy Boy and she was happy to slip into my place to put Moggy in at night and feed him if I was away.
Now Moggy Boy's waistline was always a problem. He was on a very strict weightloss diet, but sometimes continued to gain weight. I had my suspiscions that Narelle was not the only other human the Moggy Boy visited. I even had a collar tag engraved not just with his name, but "please do not feed me", to prevent him taking advantage of the generosity of my neighbours. Clearly he could put on the "I'm starving" routine and be very convincing.
Despite his daytime wanderings, Moggy Boy remained loyal to me and could always be found at my side when I was at home. We shared my bed in the evenings and he always slept on top of the blankets, pressed against my left side.
However, not all cats are as loyal or as bonded to their human as Moggy Boy was to me. A colleague of mine complained of spending over five thousand dollars on his cat when she needed emergency surgery and within three months, the cat had shifted her loyalties and moved in with the family across the street. My nephew had a similar experience with his family's cat, who was returning home less and less and his neighbours admitted to feeding her during her visits.
Most recently another friend is being visited most nights by a young ginger cat she has dubbed Marmalade. Marmalade began visiting her a month or two ago. She would greet my friend in her yard and my friend, being a major cat lover and without a cat of her own would make a fuss of her and welcome her inside for a visit. Sometimes she would treat Marmalade to a can of tuna. Eventually Marmalade would arrive most evenings and rub at my friend's window until she was invited inside. It was clear Marmalade had a home and was well cared for, as she was in excellent condition and wore a collar and bell, but no ID tag.
I discouraged my friend from feeding Marmalade, reminding her she did not want a new cat at this particular time in her life and it was not really fair to encourage someone else's cat to be quite so at home at her place. I suggested she attach a note to Marmalade's collar saying she had become a regular visitor at night and perhaps they should consider keeping her indoors at night. In any case, winter progessed and Marmalade was now spending very cold nights sleeping at my friend's side. She was also getting quite rotund.
For the last few days Marmalade has not turned up at my friend's window requesting to come inside. She is hoping Marmalade is alive and well. Maybe Marmalade is locked up, paying penance for her weight gain. Maybe she has moved with her family to a new area. My friend fears Marmalade may have been injured or killed on the road.
In any case, these stories indicate just how important it is that you bend to your cats every need and desire. Cats are very good at finding their way in to where the yummiest food and warmest spots are. If they are made welcome somewhere else and find greater comfort there, your cat is likely to up paws and move in.
It is especially vital to ensure your cat is confined at night, preferably with access to a very comfortable bed containing a human and access to a good and direct source of heat, to warm themselves to their heart's content and with plenty of their very favourite food available!