Leveling a druid: Intro to cat form abilities

As part of the addition to my leveling guide, I am exploring all of the spells and abilities we learn from the trainers as we level up. I already did the balance spell section in a post earlier this week. Today I’m going to explore cat form’s abilities. Feral abilities include both bear and cat things, however I want to break it up and do this one form at a time.

So, you get cat form at level 20. Until level 10, you have to cast balance spells at your targets. At level 10, you got bear form to do a little melee damage, but getting to 20 is usually the most painful part of druid leveling. Once a feral druid gets cat form, things get a lot more fun and leveling goes a lot faster. Here are the abilities you get:

  • Level 18: Faerie Fire (feral). So, the first cat form ability you actually get is before cat form, since it is something that works in both bear & cat. When you cast this on something, it reduces your target’s armor by 5%. This means that you do more damage. This works good for when you want to hit things that aren’t close to you, as it has a 30 yard range, and is the only ability with that big of a range that you can use in cat form.
  • Level 20: Prowl. When you train cat form, you get access to several abilities. Prowl makes it harder for things to see you. Some of your other abilities require you to be stealthed, and this ability is how you go into stealth mode. You can use this and then sneak up behind your target, using one of your opening moves. This is the other way to start combat other than using faerie fire.
  • Level 20: Claw. This is one of your primary damage ability in cat form until you get Mangle later on. This awards one combo point. Your finishing moves require combo points, and you can get up to 5 points before using the finisher. So, you can help use this ability to get finishers.
  • Level 20: Rip. This is the first finisher move you get. It puts a bleed on your target that ticks for damage over time (it’s a DOT). You need combo points (from using abilities like claw) to make this more powerful. You can use it with between 1 and 5 combo points. It does more damage with higher combo points.
  • Level 22: Shred. You can use this when you are behind your target. Since you don’t get your first opener cat move until later, this works good for using when you stealth up behind your target. It also works good any time you are grouped and you can get behind your target. You can also get behind your target if your target is stunned.
  • Level 24: Rake. Applies a damage over time effect (DOT), in the form of a bleed that acts as a debuff on your target. It’s better if you use this earlier, so that it has time to tick for the full 9 seconds. It also awards one combo point.
  • Level 24: Tiger’s Fury. When you use this, your damage is increased for a short time (it’s a buff). It’s okay at lower levels, but gets a lot better at higher levels when you pick up the King of the Jungle talent.
  • Level 26. Dash. Increases your run speed when you are in cat form. You can move fast while in combat, or to get to your next target. I usually use it for running when I’m indoors and mounting or travel form won’t work.  It also works while prowling, so you can use it to sneak up on something faster when you are stealthed and slowed down.
  • Level 28. Cower. This isn’t useful when you are by yourself, however it’s important if you are in a group. This lowers your threat, meaning that it makes things less likely to attack you. When you are grouping at you get to be a cat damage dealer, you want to use this if you are in danger of pulling threat away from the tank.
  • Level 32. Ferocious Bite. This is another one of the finisher moves. It requires the combo points you earned from using your other abilities. Instead of being a DOT/Bleed effect like rip, this does a big burst of damage. This is good to use if your targets are low on health and you want to finish them off fast when you are soloing.
  • Level 32. Ravage. This is your first actual opening move. This requires you to be prowling (in your stealth mode), and you have to be behind the target. So, you can sneak up behind something, and use this ability to do a big chunk of damage and award a combo point. This is the first ability that actually requires you to be in stealth mode.
  • Level 32. Track humanoids. You can use this to show where human things are on your mini-map on the corner of your screen. It has some good situational uses, especially on a PvP server (so you can see if horde are coming for you).
  • Level 36. Pounce. This is the second opening move, meaning that it requires you to be prowling. When you use this, it stuns the target and then applies another bleed/DOT effect that lasts for 18 seconds. What is good about using this is that if you sneak up behind the target, you can apply the stun and then you can use shred once or twice before the thing turns around and you can’t use shred anymore (since shred requires you to be behind your target). A pounce and shred together will likely do more than ravage, but it requires a little more skill and practice to get right. It’s fun to get some practice with it.
  • Level 40. Feline Grace. This reduces the damage you take when you fall off cliffs. You have to be in cat form to get the bonus. You can still die when you fall off things, but this makes it a little less likely.
  • Level 50. Mangle (Cat). While I’ve been skipping all the other abilities you get from talents, this one is really, really important for leveling. When you get this, it totally replaces claw and you won’t use claw again. I usually take claw off my bar if I have mangle available. What is great about this is that it does a large amount of damage, awards a combo point, and then also increases the damage from your bleeds (rip, pounce, & rake).
  • Level 62. Maim. Another finishing move. It does damage, stuns the target, and interrupts a target’s spell from casting. It works good if you need to stop something from hitting you to get off a heal. This seems like a primarily Player versus Player damage ability because of the stun and the casting interrupt. You can also use the stun to get behind your target and use shred.
  • Level 71. Swipe (cat). You have had a swipe in bear form since low levels, but at this level, you can now hit multiple targets at once in cat form! It uses half of your energy, but it’s nice for being able to hit more than one thing at once.
  • Level 75. Savage roar. This is a finishing move that is important for when you are doing grouping & raiding at level 80. It is a finishing move that requries combo points, and instead of doing damage directly, it just gives you a buff that increases your damage done for a period of time. It’s not that great for soloing when you kill things pretty fast, but it becomes an important higher level part of the feral rotation at 80. If you are soloing and trying to take down 2 or 3 targets right in a row, you might want to use this to buff your damage over a longer period of time while you work on killing the things. However, it does become the most important thing when you are killing bosses when you are grouping in instances since those fights usually last a pretty long time.

Conclusions: And those are all the cat form abilities that you get from leveling. There are a couple other things from talents, but I cover those in my talent section of my leveling guide. You also get higher ranks of most abilities as you level up higher which do more damage. Leveling as cat can be pretty fun, and the level 80 damage rotation for grouping or raiding is pretty interesting and complex. However, it can also be pretty rewarding.

Happy leveling!