Last updated on May 25, 2023
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen | Illustration by Cynthia Sheppard
I have a soft spot for cats; I’ve had three and they’ve all been fantastic members of my family. Our latest is a tuxedo cat name Zelda, after Zelda Fitzgerald. She was a stray that we took in around early 2021. I doubt Zelda would make for an effective MTG creature with her small frame, cuddly attitude, and general fondness for everyone she’s ever met.
Cats are a creature type that’s seen printings from Purraj of Urborg in Mirage all the way to Mischievous Catgeist in Crimson Vow. While there have been sets without Cats, they’re a popular creature type with plenty of strong cards among their ranks.
So, what are the best Cats in all of Magic? Let’s find out!
What Are Cats in Magic?
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist (Secret Lair) | Illustration by Andrea Radeck
First I need to set a definition for what consists of a cat in Magic. While there are lots of cards that depict cats or cat-like creatures, I’m only counting cards with the Cat creature subtype. While a Cat may have other types on top of that, the card counts if it’s a Cat.
I won’t be counting cards that depict cats but aren’t actually Cats. A card like Felidar Retreat that depicts cats, creates Cats, but isn’t a Cat and so it doesn’t count.
The color pie for any creature type dictates how many powerful creatures of that type exist. For Cats, their primary colors are white and green.
With all that in mind, here are the best of the best when it comes to Cats!
Best White Cats
While there are powerful cats in other colors, white is home to the greatest number of impressive kitties. Especially if you’re counting multicolor Cats that have some white in their color identity.
This cat beast might seem costly at six mana, but a 4/6 with vigilance and lifelink can hold its own in combat. Felidar Sovereign‘s real value is as an alternate win condition.
With plenty of white cards gaining life, it’s easy to stay above 40, especially in EDH games where you start at 40. An alternate win condition so perfectly suited for both white and EDH, Sovereign is one of the strongest white Cat EDH cards ever printed.
The Cat in Cat Combo that led to bans in multiple formats. Felidar Guardian blinks any permanent and sees play in any white deck that uses ETB abilities. With the push towards cards that get their value right away in recent years, blinking them can be incredibly powerful.
Armored Skyhunter is the first example of another sub-theme present in many white decks: auras and equipment. This Cat Knight has a solid body as a 3/3 flier for four mana and has an incredibly powerful attack trigger; putting an equipment or aura from the top six cards of your library onto the battlefield and attaching it to a creature you control. I imagine Skyhunter is a powerful effect to access for any white deck sporting Swords, Batterskull, or other powerful equipment.
Alms Collector, as the name implies, acts as a taxing effect for the table. You split the difference and you and your opponent each draw one card whenever an opponent draws two or more cards.
This allows you to stop draw-based combo and tax blue decks looking to power out card advantage at a Commander table. While not the most impressive taxation, white needs plenty of help shutting down other players’ card advantage engines, especially in EDH.
A classic threat when paired with consistent lifegain effects. Cat and white decks in general tend to use lifelink and other incidental lifegain.
Ajani's Pridemate can quickly outpace any threat at the table with these effects. Seeing light play during its time in Standard along with acting as an impressive threat in lifegain synergy decks, Pridemate is an eternal staple in white decks.
Rescue effects act as a solid way to 2-for-1 opponents looking to remove your threats. Protecting key threats can be the difference between winning and losing a game, especially in the mid-game.
Whitemane Lion acts to mitigate removal and continue to apply pressure to the battlefield. Whitemane also benefits from the recent trend of powerful ETB abilities that you can repeat with this effect.
The first of our Cat payoffs, Regal Caracal saw sideboard play during its time in Standard and now bolsters other Cats while creating a wide board presence. Netting 7 power for five mana at a minimum and helping to bolster your life total, Caracal can quickly swing board states, especially with other Cats or blink effects to generate more.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
The King himself, Brimaz, King of Oreskos was a Standard staple. It acted as a domineering threat and a difficult blocker for opposing decks to break through. A 3/4 for three that creates more Cats on attacks or blocks can quickly snowball the game. Especially if you can keep the board clear on your opponent’s side, or attack creature-less opponents.
While MTG has passed cards like Brimaz in power level, it still plays a role in most white weenie decks looking to amass a wide board state.
Another taxes card, Leonin Arbiter was a menace for any player looking to fetch in Modern once upon a time. Now it’s seen less often, but Arbiter’s tax can still make opponent’s sequences difficult and delay their gameplan. It gains usefulness in formats with fetch lands, tutors, and other ramp effects where it can counteract entire gameplans by just existing.
An Oblivion Ring for artifacts or enchantments, Leonin Relic-Warder is one of the many checks and balances white decks use to make sure they can interact with troublesome permanents. While this Cat needs to stay in play to keep your opponent’s cards in check, it’s an important tool for most decks to have access to. More of a toolbox card than anything, Relic-Warder can still disrupt players with ease.
We’ve learned from the power of Colossus Hammer and Sigarda's Aid in Modern that attaching powerful equipment at instant speed can ruin opponent’s defenses. You can move equipment at will with Leonin Shikari, allowing you to dodge removal spells and actively punish blocks. While you still need to pay the equip costs, effects like this that break core tenants of the game can dominate against less experienced players or just cause mayhem at any table.
Kemba, Kha Regent
Kemba, Kha Regent acts as an equipment payoff card and an army in a can. By creating 2/2 Cats for each equipment attached to Kemba, decks focusing on bolstering and protecting it can quickly create unanswerable board states of Cats along with a massive Kemba. One of the cards that works best in white style decks, Kemba is a must-answer threat that can warp any board state where it goes unchecked.
Land Tax effects make sure you don’t miss land drops and that you always have a stream of cards in hand to work with as you thin out the lands from your deck. While taking one card out of a 60- or 100-card deck doesn’t do much, taking out X Plains (especially against ramp decks) can quickly clear your deck of all fetchable Plains.
Oreskos Explorer can make sure you’re able to cast your spells on time and up the likelihood you have spells worth casting to draw with blink and bounce effects.
Lion Sash is an equipment in addition to being a cat, meaning it has the reconfigure mechanic to attach or unattach from a creature at any time! It provides efficient graveyard hate and grows from the +1/+1 counters to become either a larger, more menacing cat or simply a larger equipment.
Best Blue Cat
Blue is one of the two colors that’s really lacking in great picks for best Cats. Especially when we look at blue without considering multicolor. Between blue and red, it’s apparent that Cats prefer the Abzan portion of the color pie much more than the Selesnya part of that wedge.
A flash Cat that can trade with most creatures that are comparable in cost. While a 4/1 for five mana (even with flash) isn’t that impressive, the triggered ability on this Cat Illusion can swing games.
You draw that many cards whenever Illusory Ambusher is dealt damage. Similar to Swans of Bryn Argoll, getting one use out of this trigger can lead to huge advantage after untapping.
Best Black Cats
The middle of the color-pie is also the middle in terms of mono-colored Cats in Magic. While miles behind white and green, black offers some strong options. Especially from the Commander-exclusive sets.
Another Cat that generally comes in a package deal with other cards (in this case Witch's Cauldron), Cauldron Familiar is a multiformat playable card. It dominated in Standard until it was banned, in Pioneer it’s part of the Jund Citadel and Sacrifice decks that remain players in the meta, and it can enable sacrifice synergies and drain the whole table each time it enters the battlefield in EDH.
While a 1/1 for one mana may not seem threatening, players familiar with this card’s play pattern understand the hidden power in a recursive threat that enables payoffs and has incidental life drain.
A powerful Cat Demon, Rakshasa Debaser steals creatures from your opponent’s graveyard and puts them under your control. Along with the encore ability specifically designed for EDH games, Debaser is a powerful Commander option. Especially against other creature-centric decks.
While it’s unlikely to beat unfair decks, Debaser can easily swing midrange fights in the midgame.
Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar
Another Commander-specific card, Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar gives your commanders menace and deathtouch. Along with having partner, this enables your second commander to easily sneak through weaker defensive board states to deal damage. Falthis can help end games by enabling powerful attacks and leverage the looming threat of commander damage wins given the power of commander damage.
Best Red Cat
Red lacks mono-colored Cats that meaningfully move the needle in terms of power level looking at Cats. But like blue there’ll be more powerful red cats to see once we get to the multicolor Cats.
Chandra's Embercat helps accelerate out elementals and Chandra planeswalkers. While not an incredibly powerful effect in a vacuum, this card can help fair decks double spell earlier in the game. This card’s value rises enough to merit an inclusion with the power level of cards like Fury and other elementals.
Best Green Cats
The other deepest color in terms of cats and their power level. Green has more Cat lords than white, and many of the cards are individually more powerful. It’s difficult to determine which color has the best Cats overall, but it’s easy to say that Selesnya trumps the other three colors combined.
One of the best cards at protecting your threats and recurring enter the battlefield abilities, Temur Sabertooth can cause tons of issues for opponents. You’ll rarely be put in a bad situation if you untap with Sabertooth and some mana.
While this isn’t a card that singlehandedly wins the game, it can make your opponent’s removal and interaction inert while slowly creating advantage.
Threats that can’t be countered are great, especially for decks using green as a base. Prowling Serpopard gains an added layer of advantage by making all your creature spells uncounterable. If Serpopard survives against blue decks it’ll prove difficult for them to meaningfully interact with your onslaught of creatures.
While Serpopard never caught on in Standard, its main strengths lend itself to EDH very well.
Keeper of Fables
Keeper of Fables rewards the go-wide strategy associated with Selesnya-style decks. Whenever you deal combat damage to a player with a non-human creature, you draw a card. Green creature decks get a big step up with card advantage that plays into their board-heavy strategies. It’s easy to keep pressure high with an extra card per turn thanks to this Cat.
Another Cat-specific payoff card, Feline Sovereign gives other Cats you control +1/+1. But instead of lifelink this Cat gives your other Cats protection from Dogs, which is a flavor highlight.
The 2/3 body for three mana also holds up well while buffing your other Cats. The extra ability to destroy up to one target artifact or enchantment controlled by a player whenever one or more Cats you control deal combat damage comes up a lot in EDH where you can sacrifice some number of Cat tokens to eat important mana rocks or other problematic permanents.
Triggers that answer opposing artifacts and enchantments are foundational for green creature decks in EDH. Qasali Slingers triggers whenever it or another Cat enters the battlefield, meaning you don’t need to attack to answer permanents that are difficult to interact with.
Answering cards that would otherwise restrict your ability to attack, like Ghostly Prison or Ensnaring Bridge, can swing otherwise losing positions. Not to mention a 3/5 reach can lock down the air against smaller creatures, buying you time to find other Cats to trigger Slingers’ ability.
Yet another Cat lord, Pride Sovereign can also create Cat tokens with lifelink by exerting itself. This will singlehandedly win the game if left unchecked just like other army-in-a-can cards.
The board gets clogged quickly from Sovereign’s ability alongside untap. And while it’s not as strong as Regal Caracal off the bat, in a longer game, it’s still my pick for best Cat lord.
Best Multicolored Cats
Qasali Pridemage was the go-to disenchant effect for Selesnya decks for a long time. While cards like Force of Vigor have widely replaced Pridemage, extra copies of that effect see play in most EDH decks.
A powerful cat, the exalted ability can help to push through creatures on even board states. This cat is still a staple in EDH and one of the most recognizable cats in Magic, even if time has passed for Pridemage in Modern.
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist is a Commander-specific card that helps control combat with a lure-like ability when attacking and a limiting effect when on the defense. Cards that can shape the flow of combat on your turn are highly valuable, and Mirri manages to control combat on your turn and on subsequent turns.
Mirri helps offensively and defensively in ways few cards can for just three mana by protecting you from all out aggression while tapped. I think this Cat is an auto-include in most creature-centric Selesnya EDH decks.
Marisi, Breaker of the Coil
Marisi, Breaker of the Coil is an incredibly powerful Commander-specific card. It provides protection for all your creatures during combat by turning off your opponents’ ability to cast spells in combat.
Once your creatures connect thanks to this protection, you can safely manipulate the board state via goad. Marisi is an incredibly powerful card that serves as a strong commander or a strong element in any creature deck that can support Naya cards.
Nethroi, Apex of Death
One of many mutate Cats that debuted in Ikoria, Nethroi, Apex of Death is a 5-mana 5/5 that can return any number of creatures with total power 10 or less to the battlefield.
With the number of lower power high-impact cards in the Abzan colors, Nethroi can bring back plenty of value and threat by itself. This Cat can loop as a recursive threat with any Gravedigger effect to buy it back and start the chain again along with being a solid body, deathtouch, and lifelink.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
This Cat might be the strongest creature ever printed before the companion mechanic nerf. While it isn’t as dominant anymore following its ban from Modern, Lurrus of the Dream-Den is still one of the most powerful and recognizable Cat in Magic today. Few cards dominated the landscape quite like Lurrus did.
Kaheera, the Orphanguard
Yet another companion, Kaheera, the Orphanguard is much more reasonable. While intended for decks with one creature type or a specific subsection of creature types, Kaheera more regularly sees play in control decks with no main deck creatures. This Cat is still played in Modern thanks to the power of cards like Solitude and leverages the creature-less mode in Pioneer Azorius Control .
An efficient attacker for two mana, Fleecemane Lion was a player in Standard thanks to its monstrosity ability. A 4/4 hexproof and indestructible threat is difficult to answer, even in a format like EDH that has exile board wipe effects. While much less powerful in the context of formats now than it was in Standard, Fleecemane is still a solid option for Selesnya decks.
The second coming of Fleecemane Lion now in the style of more modern Magic. While you need to hold up mana to make Bronzehide Lion indestructible, you get Bronzehide as an aura to protect another creature if you’re caught without the ability to protect it.
Bronzehide acts as a modern upgrade to the Watchwolf-style 3/3 for Selesnya creatures. Especially when you can use the aura side to protect more impressive creatures like your commander.
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
What if Cats mixed with Brood Dragons? Wasitora, Nekoru Queen does its best impression of what that would look like.
A 5-mana 5/4 flying trample Cat Dragon that forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature when dealt combat damage or you get a 3/3 Jund Cat Dragon with flying. Easily one of the most punishing Cats on this list, your opponent loses their creatures and dies to an army of flying Cats if Wasitora is left unchecked.
This Cat may not be the best commander but it’s a great addition to any Jund () deck from the Commander precons.
Arahbo, Roar of the World
Arahbo, Roar of the World is another 5-mana 5/5 Cat that can quickly ram through any opponent’s defense. It gives another Cat you control +3/+3 at the beginning of combat if it’s in play or in the command zone.
This ability to bolster your team without having to expose your commander to removal is a great way to break through opposing blockers. You can also pay to give it trample and +X/+X where X is its power whenever another Cat you control attacks.
So Arahbo gives a Cat +3/+3 for free and then gives itself +X/+X and trample for three mana. You can see how this would quickly overwhelm any opponent without loads of removal on demand.
While a 2-mana 1/1 flier may look less impressive than some of the 2-mana 3/3 Cats above, Skycat Sovereign is another army-in-a-can that grows quickly. Able to creature 1/1 flying Cats for four mana, Sovereign also gets +1/+1 for each other creature you control with flying.
Those cats that Sovereign makes? They pump it up. Any other fliers in a deck that can support blue and white? Also help Skycat. Mana sinks that are threats by themselves go a long way in pressuring players, even in formats with higher power levels like EDH.
Another mutate cat from Ikoria, Necropanther reanimates creatures with mana value three or less whenever it mutates. While not as impressive as the mythic version mentioned above, this effect is a solid form of reanimation. Especially at only four mana to mutate the first time.
Rin and Seri, Inseparable
Another Naya card but this time we have not only a Cat but a Dog as well. Rin and Seri, Inseparable create more Dogs or Cats each time you cast a spell of the respective type. It also deals damage to any target equal to the number of Dogs you control, and you gain life equal to the number of Cats you control.
While this makes the card a little weaker in the context of best Cats, it’s still a powerful card that can easily overwhelm your opponent’s board and stave off any early aggression.
Vadrok, Apex of Thunder
Yet another mutate cat from Ikoria, this time one that dominated high-level play in Standard. The Japanese team put three teammates into the World Championship with the Jeskai Mutate deck.
Vadrok, Apex of Thunder works to buy back spells from your graveyard by allowing you to cast them without paying their mana cost each time it mutates. While mutate is a limited enough mechanic that I don’t expect there will be too many mutate-focused decks in EDH, this is the mutate Cat that had the largest effect on Standard, the World Championship, and I’m certain someday soon on Pioneer.
Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt
The final legendary mutate Cat, Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt is the most aggressively slanted of the big Cats. A 3/5 double striker that deals four damage to target creature or planeswalker and you gain four life whenever it mutates.
Clearing the path for large swings, especially from a 4-drop that can be your commander, Snapdax is a solid card that still falls behind some of the other mutate Cats. Especially in a format like EDH where it can easily be answered, the other Cats just provide more meaningful advantage. Especially if you can mutate more than once. But a solid legendary mutate Cat is more than powerful enough to merit a spot on this list.
Best Colorless Cat
While there aren’t any colorless Cats from traditional sets that I want to highlight (sorry Diamond Lion), there is one worth mentioning.
The mighty Paper Tiger, a Cat contained only by the menacing Scissors Lizard. This card might not see much play in decks but it does help decide draw and act as a fun minigame outside of the match.
Secret Lair Kitties
WotC released a limited printing Secret Lair focusing on Cats in December 2019. While the Secret Lair is no longer available directly from WotC, the cards are now out on any marketplace for purchase.
Along with new art Cat tokens, many of these cards are mentioned above as some of the strongest cat cards in Magic and I think this Secret Lair did a good job of capturing some of the better choices available for new art treatments and a special release.
The Secret Lair contained:
- 1 alt-art Arahbo, Roar of the World
- 1 alt-art Leonin Warleader
- 1 alt-art Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
- 1 alt-art Qasali Slingers
- 1 alt-art Regal Caracal
- 2 alt-art Cat tokens
The Cats of Draftsim
Here’s my very own Zelda!
This is Artemis, a.k.a. Arti. She’s about 3 years old and the photo of her chomping down on my computer monitor was taken about 2 seconds before she broke it. I still love her.Nikki, our head editor
Selena Gomeows, Miley Cypuss, and Lincoln
The kitten in the first few pics is Selena Gomeows, the wide-eyed photogenic beauty is Miley Cypuss, and the black queen of the house is Lincoln. I’ve had Lincoln for a decade, Miley showed up a few years ago and decided she lives there, same with Selena this winter.Gavin (AlphaFrog)
His name is Neptune and there is nothing inside his head, thoughts empty.Jeff
Felidar Guardian | Illustration by Jakub Kasper
Today we took a deep dive into the wonderful world of Cats in Magic. There are hundreds of creatures of a feline persuasion in the history of the game and many are still powerful staples today. From companions to mutate monsters to generally powerful Commander cards, Cats continue to stand at the forefront of creature subtypes.
White and green stand out as the primary color for Cats, but every color has powerful legendary cats to work with thanks to Ikoria! There’s no need to limit yourself if you have an interest in the world of Cats. And there are also tons of instants, sorceries, and more that create Cats, so be sure to do a search before finalizing any future Cat decks!
Let me know if there are any Cats in Magic that have a fond place in your heart or that I missed in my list of the best Cats in Magic. And I’d love to see your cats! Be sure to send cat pictures to Draftsim’s official Twitter account and comment down below with any cat-based decks you’ve enjoyed.
Thanks for reading and I hope to catch you in the next one!
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Just built a cat/dog deck for Rin & Seri. Still tweaking it to win battles against Eldrazi and Padeem decks. Looking promising!