Last updated on May 23, 2023
Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Commanders come in all shapes and sizes. They come with skin, feathers, scales, and fur. And speaking of fur, a few of them may even be prone to fur balls.
That’s right, it’s time to talk cat commanders. Cozy up in a sun beam and come find the purr-fect cat commander for you!
What Are Cat Commanders in MTG?
Prava of the Steel Legion | Illustration by Matt Stewart
Cat commanders are legendary creatures with the cat type. Due to being legendary, these creatures can be your commander in an EDH deck.
There are 39 possible cat commanders as of March of the Machine, and they’re all here. Since we’re talking about commanders, they’re sorted according to color identity.
Before you bug me about it, no, Ajani doesn’t show up because he’s never been a legendary creature, “only” a planeswalker.
Best White Cat Commanders
#8. Raksha Golden Cub
It has vigilance, at least. Raksha Golden Cub is emblematic of legends that make poor commanders. It’s a 7-drop that has to be equipped to give you any value above being a body. Not the ideal leader, at least for this format.
#7. Jareth, Leonine Titan
Big kitty. Giant kitty. Jareth, Leonine Titan is big and cheaply protected, but it doesn’t point to any path to victory. As a role-player in another deck? Fantastic, protective boi. As a commander? Lion-sized yawn.
#6. Jazal Goldmane
Jazal Goldmane is another legendary cat who shows their leadership in how they support, not in how they front. Jazal pays you off for having lots of creatures to attack with (hello, tokens) and has a good-sized body on its own. That activation cost means there’s a threshold at which it’s not worth using, though. The best commanders just have more numerous and steady ways to impact the game.
#5. Brimaz, King of Oreskos
It may not be the only cat commander that creates tokens when it attacks and blocks, but Brimaz, King of Oreskos also has them enter blocking or attacking alongside it. Oh, and it both has and grants its tokens vigilance.
It sees more use in the 99 of other decks, and it’s really expensive. For the cost of acquisition, Brimaz, King of Oreskos doesn’t do enough considering that all its value is attached to combat phases.
#4. Kemba, Kha Enduring
Kemba, Kha Enduring is still fairly new and feels like it could get better over time. From Phyrexia: All Will Be One, this Kemba focuses on cats and equipment. It’ll auto-attach something that’s available when your cats enter the battlefield, and it can pump out tokens for you. Definitely supportive for your pre-existing cat decks, but we’ll see in a year or so where it settles.
#3. Prava of the Steel Legion
Prava of the Steel Legion is another white commander that cares about and creates tokens, but this cat makes Soldiers. You can partner it with Ikra Shidiqui, the Usurper since the Naga Wizard cares about your creatures’ toughness when they deal combat damage to a player. And since Prava buffs your tokens’ toughness by four on your turn, it’s like they’re made for each other.
#2. Kemba, Kha Regent
Kemba, Kha Regent wants all the equipment. And it should have it! I look at its ability and I immediately want a token doubler. The synergy is a bit stilted with the other Kemba, but that’s okay. You’ve got a cat that basically gives you a reinforcement phase like in Risk.
#1. Balan, Wandering Knight
Balan, Wandering Knight is an equipment-focused commander, and it’s pretty good at that. It’s casting and activation costs are both reasonably costed. But you know what’s better than Balan’s equipping activated ability? Cards that reduce equip costs to zero. Looking at you, Puresteel Paladin.
You probably want Sram, Senior Artificer around if you’re playing Balan, but which equipment are you going to run? How many swords?
Best Black Cat Commanders
#3. Purraj of Urborg
It’s neat that you can buff Purraj of Urborg whenever you successfully cast black spells, but this isn’t all that good in today’s game. Too costly, situational first strike, and it only helps itself, not you or your board.
#2. Mirri the Cursed
I told myself going into this that if I ran into a cat with haste, I’d say that it had zoomies. Thanks, Mirri the Cursed.
This Mirri relies on dealing combat damage to give you value. There’s virtually no counter doubling available in mono black, but you might want to consider something like Astarion's Thirst or Necropolis Regent.
#1. Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar
I’m judging this mostly on its potential as a commander, but I have to admit that Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar is attractive in the 99 of other decks. If you have two commanders in that one, so much the better!
Falthis gives your commander(s) deathtouch and menace, including itself if you run it solo or partnered. For a good partner look no further than the Lizard familiar from Commander Legends, Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar. If you’re looking for flavor, how about cats and dogs with Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful?
Best Green Cat Commanders
#4. Jermane, Pride of the Circus
“Art matters” is one of those very fun, only for casual types of mechanics. Jermane, Pride of the Circus lets you buff your four-legged creatures and can force your opponents’ creatures to block one of them.
#3. Mirri, Cat Warrior
The main way I think of building around Mirri, Cat Warrior is to try to Voltron it with a bunch of auras and equipment. First strike and vigilance are a good start, and forestwalk can be situationally good. You don’t have access to white, so your cat or warrior tribal strategies are going to be a little restricted.
#2. Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
Speaking of cat warriors, Jedit Ojanen of Efrava could slot in your Mirri, Cat Warrior deck well. It’s costlier to get onto the battlefield, although it creates forestwalking cat warriors when it attacks and blocks. I’m giving it the edge as a commander because it’ll be cheaper for you to find if it’s not already in your collection.
#1. Runadi, Behemoth Caller
Wow. That’s a lot. Runadi, Behemoth Caller encourages you to run costly creatures, and mono-green’s the right place for that. It’ll also give your costly, buffed creatures the zoomies (haste). Think of it as catnip. Ever see a rhino on catnip? Oh, and it’s a mana dork. Because shaman typing.
Best Multicolored Cat Commanders
#22. Jedit Ojanen
Jedit Ojanen is a 7-mana 5/5 with no abilities. The stat line is an okay starting point for Voltron, I guess? You’d have to protect the heck out of this or build a Commander deck that doesn’t give a darn about its commander. An Anti-Commander deck, if you will.
#21. Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava
Admittedly, the flavor text and having domain go hand in hand. Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava needs to become tapped to trigger its domain ability. Since you’d be in the wrong colors to Twiddle it, you’d have to rely on other tappers in white and green if you want to avoid combat. Commander tax could pile up quickly with this one.
#20. Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary
Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary is at least cheaper than Jedit Ojanen. I wish the token generation didn’t have a cost, although removing it would take away this commander’s access to green if you don’t change its mana cost. Legends matter can be a fun theme to build around, and you could do worse than have this version of Jedit lead the charge.
#19. Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith
Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith acts as an equipment tutor, with one particular target heading straight to the battlefield. Tapping opposing creatures when you attack with your equipped creatures filters blockers and lets you swing with a little more peace of mind. Since you’re multicolor, you can slot in some of the white cat commanders that also care about equipment.
#18. Kaheera, the Orphanguard
You’re playing a specific suite of creatures if you build around Kaheera, the Orphanguard. I’ve got to be honest though, it’s an odd assortment of creature types. Elementals and nightmares together, I get. Tack on beasts, cats, and dinosaurs? Sea creature tribal, this is not.
Kaheera can’t be both your commander and your companion, so don’t even think about it. Non-starter. Back to the drawing board.
#17. Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt
So I’m immediately eating my words, huh? Look, I know the original intention was to have mutate be tribal specific to elementals, nightmares, beasts, cats, and dinosaurs, but it’s still a strange combo, okay?
I like the mutate trigger, but I don’t like Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt’s mutate cost, at least not to lead my deck. There’s other mutate options, though. Vadrok, Apex of Thunder has access to blue, which you trade that in for black if you’re running Snapdax.
#16. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Listen, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist is a fantastic card. The way that it affects how your opponents can attack or block you is as sublime as a rich, decadent cheesecake. Emphasis on cheese.
The thing is, this is a commander that only affects the game during combat. Your opponent can always choose not to attack, which neutralizes that third ability.
#15. Denry Klin, Editor in Chief
Stop the presses! Or is that too archaic in the digital age?
No hiding biases. I like Denry Klin, Editor in Chief. You can copy the second ability when non-tokens enter the battlefield, but you can’t copy the first ability which chooses the type of counter Denry Klin has when it enters. No matter; white has a bunch of ways to distribute +1/+1 counters, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get Denry Klin to dole out two different counters to your non-tokens.
#14. Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
“Nekoru” is an anglicization of the Japanese for “cat dragon,” so the name certainly fits. Flying and trample will help to get Wasitora, Nekoru Queen dealing combat damage to opponents, which means either sacrifices or tokens. Either way, you benefit! Black and green are the right colors to access other sacrifice effects, too.
#13. Phabine, Boss’s Confidant
I dunno why, but I’m hearing echoes of Pirates of the Caribbean when I read “parley.” (If they do Pirates for UB, do you think parley could play a part?)
Phabine, Boss's Confidant is another cat who can do tokens, both by giving them haste and by creating more through its parley. Six toughness makes Phabine less squishy, but I’d toss in other protection to reduce your chances of paying commander tax.
#12. Mahadi, Emporium Master
Yeah, that’s a Rakdos ability. Mahadi, Emporium Master should give you a bunch of artifactfall triggers from cards like Ingenious Artillerist or Reckless Fireweaver. Mahadi doesn’t care who owns or controls the dying creatures, but it only triggers on your turn. The scales of power balance are at it again.
You won’t care about sacrificing a creature as part of the cost to cast a spell here. Of course, it’s also fun to make your opponents sacrifice things. “Alright, before we get down to combat, I’mma tap two. Does anyone have an answer for Sheoldred's Edict?”
#11. Kros, Defense Contractor
Kros, Defense Contractor asks you to build around a narrow playstyle, that is to put counters on your opponents’ creatures. Kros deals out shield counters (“defense contractor”), but there are other options. Sheltering Ancient’s cumulative upkeep asks you put +1/+1 counters on your opponents’ creatures. That’s usually a drawback, but in this case, you tap the creature until your opponent’s turn (thanks, Kros), during which it’ll still be goaded and has to attack someone else. Just don’t take an extra turn to cancel that out, alright?
Of course, wither and infect are right there to give you opponents’ creatures -1/-1 counters. And you can always proliferate whatever you’re handing out!
#10. Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva
“Bard.” “Mayhem Diva.” Sounds about right.
You’re in the right colors to be running tokens and should have plenty of creatures to tap. The ability is versatile, in that you can use it for politics to buff a creature an opponent would attack with anyway or use the ability to goad your target. I don’t think Kitt Kanto will be your main source of token generation, but it’s always nice when the citizenry is active and engaged.
#9. Vadrok, Apex of Thunder
Recursion when Vadrok, Apex of Thunder mutates is pretty neat, but keep in mind that you can’t recur a mutate creature just to trigger mutate all over again. Buuuuut. You can return your own creatures to your hand and then cast them for their mutate cost. Just mutate Vadrok with a Pouncing Shoreshark and be sure to stack your mutate triggers accordingly. Roundabout, but valid.
Bonus remark: you can play Kaheera, the Orphanguard in a Vadrok EDH deck, but not the other way around. Go figure.
#8. Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos
Oh, compleat tragedy. Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos gives you perks when you cast Phyrexians or artifacts. Incubate X is disgusting. Oh, and you proliferate at the end of any turn you have a Phyrexian die? Not a cat tribal commander, but, uh… Phyrexian tribal? Yikes.
#7. Silvar, Devourer of the Free
”Partner with” can be restrictive, but also freeing. It’s not like you can have an anxiety spiral about which partner to pick, right?
Silvar, Devourer of the Free eats humans to grow. And Trynn, Champion of Freedom gives you Human Soldiers at the end of turns during which you attacked. You don’t have access to green token doublers, but you can still use Anointed Procession. Kindred Charge can also be useful, especially since you’re going to exile your token copies anyway. Bastion of Remembrance is a solid way to pay off all those creature deaths, too.
#6. Marisi, Breaker of the Coil
Any card that shuts down your opponents’ ability to cast spells, even temporarily, is really powerful. They can still activate their permanents’ abilities during your combat, but they’re still restricted on what they can do. Want some more disruption? How about Rhythm of the Wild to prevent your non-token creatures from being countered?
Marisi, Breaker of the Coil adds to the chaos when it goads your opponents’ creatures. It doesn’t point toward any narrow or specific tribal strategy, although the consistent goading forces attacks from the tokens you give opponents with Generous Gift or Beast Within.
#5. Soul of Windgrace
A deck where you can run The Gitrog Monster and actually take advantage of the lands in your graveyard? Sign me up! Soul of Windgrace gives you advantages for discarding your lands too, including lifegain, rummaging, and granting itself indestructible. Soul of Windgrace doesn’t limit you to basics either, so you can laugh in the face of land destruction. Or go grab another Evolving Wilds.
This is already a strong start, and there’s a few recent cards that look like they could put in good work here. Titania, Voice of Gaea and its flip side Titania, Gaea Incarnate have a lot to give you. It’s a nitpick, but I wish the flip side’s land animation also untapped the land. Meanwhile, Ancient Greenwarden doubles any landfall triggers you might have.
#4. Nethroi, Apex of Death
I read that mutate trigger and all I think is “splat.”
That’s a lot of graveyard recursion. Build your deck right and every creature in your ‘yard is coming back. Nethroi, Apex of Death is not a misnomer. Green and black are good for self-mill. Necropanther can give you a similar, early game mutate trigger, while Boneyard Lurker returns any permanent type, albeit to your hand.
#3. Arahbo, Roar of the World
If you’re building around Arahbo, Roar of the World, you’re doing cat tribal. It’s the cat avatar, come on! Its eminence buffs one of your Cats from the command zone, and you get more perks if it’s on the battlefield. +3/+3 for your smaller creatures, and a power-doubling ability for your bigger ones. I love it.
#2. Jetmir, Nexus of Revels
The more creatures you have, the better. Jetmir, Nexus of Revels is in perfect colors to produce a bunch of tokens, and it isn’t too expensive to bring back with commander tax. It doesn’t care about creature types or whether they’re tokens, only that you control them. That a lot of stacking “oomph.”
#1. Rin and Seri, Inseparable
“They get along like cats and dogs,” huh? Well, these two and their friends get along quite well, thank you. Cast a Dog, get a Cat token. Cast a cat, get a Dog token.
Rin and Seri, Inseparable’s color typing is perfect for these creatures, and the combination of burn and life gain on its last ability is beautiful. I want one. You probably want one. No wonder it’s a $20 card.
Best Cat Commander Payoffs
Some of these commanders like Arahbo, Roar of the World encourage you to build around cats, so it’s good to find other cards that help. King of the Pride and Feline Sovereign passively buff your feline friends, but a Regal Caracal adds lifelink and tokens to the package.
Speaking of tokens, Prava of the Steel Legion can create some for you. Phabine, Boss's Confidant is a haste enabler for your tokens, and Jedit Ojanen of Efrava creates tokens as an attack/block trigger. Jetmir, Nexus of Revels gives you stacking advantages based on the number of creatures you have. And if you really want some Cat tokens, pump up the on your White Sun's Zenith.
Leonin Abunas is a cat that gives your artifacts hexproof, which includes equipment. Some of the white cat commanders have abilities that center on equipment, too. Kemba, Kha Regent and Balan, Wandering Knight want them all for themselves, while Kemba, Kha Enduring wants to give equipment to all your other cats that ETB.
The Apex cats (Nethroi, Apex of Death, Vadrok, Apex of Thunder, and Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt) all have mutate, but they can’t be played together unless they’re in a deck lead by another commander. However, lots of mutate creatures can work in more than one of the Apex decks, depending on the mutate trigger you’re looking for.
Silvar, Devourer of the Free | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Cats have long been our companions, but it’s still debatable which species domesticated which. Tony the Tiger may not have a Magic card yet, but there are plenty of other cool cats who can command your deck. As you’d expect, many of them remain vigilant and let their presence be known on the battlefield.
Which commander is the cat’s meow? Which do you hate seeing on the other side of the table? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!
Time for me to whisk away! Whisker? I hardly know ‘er!
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