Let’s talk Cat form DPS.

If you leveled your Druid like me, mostly as a DPS cat, you probably have developed your own way of taking down your prey. You’ve gotten used to your power and speed, and I’m sad to say that if you are like me, you might have gotten a bit sloppy in how you fight in cat.

Do you walk up to targets, hit Faerie Fire (Feral), and then spam Mangle until it’s dead?

If so, this post is for you.

There are two main ways we can try to optimize our damage output;

Burst (for soloing and PvP)
Sustained (for Raiding, aggro throttled)

In this post I am only going to focus on Burst DPS.

If you have not been involved in end game raiding much, it is likely that you have, without consciously realizing it, optimized your build, gear and playstyle for Burst DPS.

If you have dedicated Cat gear, then you’ve probably sought out the gear with the highest Strength for the 2.2 Attack Power per 1 point of Strength (with Heart of the Wild bonus), gear with lots of Agi for high Crits, and lastly stuff that has pure Attack Power. Stamina, sure, if you get the Attack Power and Crit goodies first.

Burst is a race to see which goes down first; your health or your targets’. The faster you pump out high DPS, the faster your target goes down, the less chance your target has to hurt you, and the greater the chance you live.

This playstyle can have the effect of encouraging lazy tactics.

With the ability to pop out of cat, hit barkskin, cast your three HoTs and then shift into bear for added damage mitigation and top end Stamina if you find yourself in trouble, it can be very easy to just run straight in as a kitty and pound away, trusting in your shifting roles to keep you out of trouble in the case of multiple adds.

I see it all the time. I have a couple of real good friends who both run rogues. I’ll group with one of them, and shift into cat. We’ll both approach our designated targets. I’ll see the rogue slip into stealth and maneuver behind the target, and I wonder why he is going to all that trouble, right before I run in, hit Faerie Fire (Feral), and start spamming Mangle.

Well, the rogue doesn’t happen to have an ‘Oh shit, I bit off more than I can chew’ technique that lets him suddenly have the healing support of HoTs and the armor of a tank. Instead, he has to rely on being sneaky, on maneuvering for the best possible advantages, and if everything truly goes into the pot, relying on sneakiness like Vanish to slip away, and not just stand and bear the pain.

So rogues get into the habit of approaching each fight carefully, and with forethought. Well, I hope they do, anyway.

I have been guilty, when soloing, of just running up to a target in cat form, without stealth, without Tigers’ Fury, and wailing away spamming Mangle until I’m out of Energy, and then waiting for white damage to take him down that last little bit until I have enough energy built up to pop Ferocious Bite and finish him. Then, maybe a quick shift for a Hot, and shift back and run off after the next one. Why? Well, maybe I’m grinding Kurenai rep at level 70, and I want to blast through those damn Ogres for my beads as fast as I can.

Style and finesse?

Finesse my ass, I want to kill and leave piles of the dead behind me.

Worse yet, with my current gear and enchants, I’m pulling down over 2200 AP in cat form. My crit chance is over 30%. It’s actually encouraging me to be sloppy because so far, I can get away with it.

I finally realized during my rep grinding for Netherwing that I was getting really bad. I’ve been treating mobs of 70’s and multiple pulls like I used to treat Deadmines trash on a speed run.

That sounds good, but it’s not. If you don’t maintain your skills, they won’t be there when you need them for a really tough challenge. And it is good to be proficient in our shifting abilites… but they shouldn’t be the crutch we use to get us past our poor DPS output.

Working on my own skills has inspired me to go over the basics of smart Burst DPS output, and get back in the habit of proper gameplay. Hopefully some of you can find some benefit from these tips, as well.

Remember, we are talking about maximizing your kitty advantages, and treating your opponent seriously and with respect. If you do everything in your power to take him down, and you still have to use your other hard-won shifting skills, then you can at least be happy in the knowledge that you took down a worthy adversary.

One note: Cat form abilities cost energy to use. You start out with 0 energy when you shift to cat form, plus 40 instant energy if specced into Furor.
You regenerate 20 energy every 2 seconds, whether you are in combat or not.

Follow along with this plan for burst damage and use of your feral gifts;

1) As you approach your target, slip into Prowl.

2) As you get close, activate Tigers’ Fury. This does NOT break Prowl. If you time things right, you can activate Tigers’ Fury as you approach your target, and be at full energy before you are actually within melee range.

3) Once you reach full energy and are within melee range, activate Pounce.


You do NOT have to be behind your target, but if you wait until you are it sets up your next attacks perfectly. Pounce gives you a nice 3 second stun plus 1 second if specced into Brutal Impact, puts a DoT on your target and gives you a Combo Point (unless your target is immune, like rock elementals). Pounce costs 50 energy.

4) Now that the target is stunned, move behind your target (if you’re not already there). Shred his butt.


You should be able to pop off two Shreds before the stun wears off, if you have 2 points in Shredding Attacks. If not, you can at least get 1. Shred costs 60 energy (instant cast), and 2 points in Shredding Attacks reduces that by 18. So with Shredding Attacks you need 42 energy per Shred.

When you hit Pounce, your energy dropped to 50. You hit your first Shred, your energy dropped to 8. In 2 seconds, you’ll be able to hit Shred again, and your target will still have 1 second left on his Stun duration. If you are very lucky and specced for it, you might get an Omen of Clarity proc on a Shred and be able to get a third Shred in there for free. You now have 3 Combo points on your target total, and if your Pounce or any of your Shreds were crits, you have 4 or more Combo Points. The target, you will note, is still stunned.

5) NOW you pop off Faerie Fire (Feral).

6) And now the target wakes up, says “Ouch”, spins to face you, and you pop your first Mangle attack right in his face. You now have 4 Combo points minimum.

What you do next depends on your situation.

If your target is pretty low on health, do white damage while you wait for your energy to regenerate enough to pop Ferocious Bite. Ferocious Bite will drain your energy back to zero, but it has a chance to crit and will either come close to finishing off your target, or actually do it. It is, and should only be used as, a finishing move.

If your target is NOT close to death, if he still has decent health and you are going to be getting serious with him, then use Rip to burn your Combo points, and keep up the cycle of using Mangle every time the cooldown is up, and Rip when your Combo points are full.


Rip does a base of 1092 damage over 12 seconds. It also gains a 30% damage bonus from your Mangle Bleed debuff. Rip only costs 30 energy. For a long term fight, it both does more damage per Combo point, and gives you more energy to spend on other yellow damage attacks like Mangle.


Ferocious Bite does a base of 935 to 968. It has the possibility of critting, but it gains no advantage from your Bleed debuff, and it uses every last drop of energy right when you want to be building it for Mangle. I’m serious, only use it as a potential finishing move.

Now, if you are getting freaky on your target, and doing serious damage to him, but you are also taking serious damage yourself, then instead of using Rip when your Combo points are full at some point during the fight, use Maim instead to stun your target.


You instantly stop auto-attacking, and it lets you shift to caster, pop off both Lifebloom and Regrowth on yourself, and shift back into Cat, build up your energy and launch right back into the battle.

Why Lifebloom and Regrowth and not Rejuvenation? I’ll let an expert like Resto4Life answer that one in depth, but I’ve found that on a heal per mana basis in a catfight I like Lifebloom better, and Lifebloom stacks so I can pop it a few times in a row for better heals over time, cheaper than Rejuve if I need them ticking fast.

As an advanced move, requiring you to know your target pretty well, if the target has very high armor, then right after your first Mangle and Rip you should throw a Rake on the target.


It benefits from your Mangle Bleed debuff, stacking another Bleed DoT on your target, the Bleed DoT ignores armor, and stacking your Bleed DoTs makes maximum use of your Mangle.

Against normal armor targets, Mangle is far superior in effectiveness vs energy cost to Rake. I’m just saying that against high armor targets it’s effective.

Generally, in conclusion, remember you should Mangle whenever the cooldown is up, never use Claw, and reapply Faerie Fire (Feral) if it expires before your target.

Now, THAT is how you go to town like the DPS machine you can be.

EDIT: I’ve been asked to add a Raiding DPS guide for those that will have the luxury of being a kitty DPS, lurking behind the enemy while the Tank is keeping it occupied. I think it’s safe to say that if you tank, there are always going to be fights where the off tank or main tank don’t need you in bear, and so you can switch to cat and mix it up. rather than go into it in detail, I am going to post what Elitist Jerks have in their Feral Druid Megathread, and I invite you to go there for more in depth discussions on the how and the why.

DPS Cycle

The standard cycle is:
Mangle -> Shred to 5 combo points -> Wait for 70+ energy (preferably 80+), Rip->Mangle, start again.

Due to the way Rip scales with combo points, a four combo point rip is almost as effective as a 5 combo point rip (there is a static gain, AP doesn’t scale between 4 and 5). This makes it quite effective to use a 4 combo point rip if your mangle has already run out (as a non-mangled shred is pretty pathetic in comparison to a mangled one).

31 Responses to “Kitty Burst DPS and you”
  1. Phaelia says:

    Wow, this was a really helpful article for someone like me. Although I’m unlikely to ever have Mangle, I definitely needed some pointers on how to optimize my Cat Form DPS for when I take low level friends through midlevel content. And your explanation of popping out to cast some heals explains why I have seen many Ferals talking about a /castsequence macro for some combination of Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, and Regrowth.

    And while I’m not 100% sure why you would use Regrowth and Lifebloom over Rejuvenation and Lifebloom, I imagine the 21-second duration of Regrowth and the 7-second Bloom of Lifebloom would make these two attractive choices.

    Thanks!

  2. BigBearButt says:

    Well Phae, as far as the macro, I have nothing to offer to help folks out. I don’t use macros much.

    My hunter alt has a shot rotation macro that I laboriously did the math on for weapon speed, and while it works beautifully, it kind of turned me off to macros in general for cast actions.

    I use them for /target, and the gorgeous ‘Lacerate on mouseover’, but that’s it. I’m trying to keep from automating too much.

    As far as the ‘why use Lifebloom and Regrowth instead of Rejuve’…

    Three words; Tiny Mana Pool.

    Rejuvenation is expensive in mana for the healing it does, in comparison to Lifebloom. I find in most cases that the short powerful ticks of Lifebloom and the big burst of Regrowth plus long lasting ticks get me through, and the mana saved goes towards shift costs.

    I have the Staff of Natural Fury specifically because of the reduction to shift costs, since my spec didn’t leave me any points left over for Natural Shapeshifter.

    But honestly… in cat gear, my mana pool is a sad and tiny thing, worthy of your pity.

  3. The Egotistical Priest says:

    Hahaha, you were so describing how I fought things with my druid.

    The lazy, thoughtless way, that is. *winks*

    Superb article, thank you very much!

  4. rogueapple says:

    Great post. Yup, I’m a lazy Mangle spammer too. I know I should be patient, and Pounce, and do all those other things, but Mangle works so well!

  5. Melnayo says:

    Well, there’s no harm in using the Quick and Dirty method of killing hundreds of creatures as long as you know how to fight effectively when faced with a decently challenging opponent.

    I’d like to make one minor adjustment to your proposed sequence. I prefer to Pounce, Faerie Fire, then Shred Shred, so the Shreds get the extra damage from the armor reduction. There’s no particular rush. Even if i proc a clearcast, i can FF, Shred, Shred, Shred JUST before the mob can turn around.

  6. BigBearButt says:

    Melnayo, if you’re able to get a FFF in before your Shreds, then I need to try it out and make a correction, because that would be very nice.

    Thanks a lot for the pointer, I appreciate it!

  7. Melnayo says:

    Oh, that’s assuming that you have two points in Brutal Impact, increasing the length of the stun by 1 second.

  8. Melnayo says:

    Though this story is now getting old, i will post again. In fact, i prefer to Mangle then Shred. I think you come out to about the same amount of damage (due to the bonus to Shred damage) for 2 less energy (no big deal), but then if you proc clearcasting, the third attack (Shred) will get the damage bonus, resulting in an overall definitely higher amount than 3 shreds.

  9. rogueapple says:

    I took your advice the other day, and tried to DPS in a more intelligent way. Hunting Skettis in Terokkar, I would go Pounce, Shred, Shred again (if possible), Mangle, Rip, Maim, Shred, and if they weren’t dead yet, more Mangles.

    I was shocked at how quickly and safely I would finish the fight, often with little or no damage taken. Awesome!

  10. Finwe says:

    I’ll have to try this method out. I didn’t level up as a kitty. I went the whole way as a resto. I started using my feral forms at level 60. In TBC, I did the first 2 levels in mostly bear form. Once I got that stun, I started using cat. Then I got addicted.

    I tried using the cat for big burst dps, but I usually seem to move quicker (due to less down time) by following a slightly slower approach.

    I’ve been moving in, Pounce, Rake, FF, Mangle, Mangle (until 5 pts), then hit the stun (can’t remember the name). Manuver around behind, and take em out with a Shred, Mangle. Sometimes, if the mob’s down in the 1000-2000 range, I’ll use Ferocious Bite as my finisher, then 1 more Mangle (if they last that long).

    I just started using Rip against runners. Chain stuns are great against casters. All out big dps against those pesky guys that are immune to bleed.

    I suppose I’m not up to my full potential, but this method just seems to work so well. As my gear gets better, I’m finding that about half the time, I can finish the fight with that first Ferocious Bite.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I usually to the
    Tiger fury
    Pounce
    faire fire
    Shred
    mangle
    *mob wakes up*
    Rake
    white dmg
    mangle(by this time one of your strike have crit so you should be @ 5pts)
    maim
    (wait for energy, or heal)
    Shred
    Mangle
    (mob is usually about to die so you can mangle again if you have energy or 2-3pt ferocious bite target).

  12. Anonymous says:

    Pounce, mangle, shred, shred, shred, rip will always do more damage more quickly than pounce, shred, etc.

    Even if you only get in the one shred you will be doing better having the pounce mangle shred mangle mangle rip combo than pounce shred shred.

    Rip is a far better finisher than bite unless the target will go down on the bite. Even at 4 cp.

    I don’t have rake on my bars anymore since they gave us mangle. Even against high armor targets you’ll be doing less dmg/energy than mangle or shred. The only thing it’s good for afaik is keeping rogues from sucessfully vanishing/CS in pvp if your pounce fails.

    Check the EJ forums feral dps post for the math on this.

  13. missjess says:

    Thanks for the guide, I am also guilty as charged for being lazy and sloppy with my burst dps since like you I have the gear with great AP and crit and great health to boot (I even get lazy and don’t switch out of tank gear) and I group with a beastmaster hunter. But lately he’s been bragging how he and his pet separatly do more damage than me so I need to step my game up a bit.

    Please post some more tips about doing sustained dps in raids. Typically I tank in raids but I have been doing more dps lately since some encounters you need all the dps you can get and ferals tend to bring that more than prot warriors so for example in a situation where we’re in the Eye and doing 1-2 trash pulls I might be dpsing but I still tank void reaver. My sustained dps isn’t that great and I struggle a lot with gettin gmy finishing moves off.

  14. Someone says:

    Nice guide! When I picked up my druid a couple months ago, I went the “macro” way as I had been doing on my hunter. I’m feral but not the “usual” feral! :)

    I was typing a huge comment here, but I then thought better and instead made a post in my hunter blog. It’s not a hunter related post, but it’s my blog so I can diverge a bit if needed! Check it out here and take a look at my macros and some nice tricks! :)

  15. Daitya (Gorgonnash Horde) says:

    I slightly disagree, instead of pouncing into shred…

    Do it like this.

    Pounce > Mangle > Shred (+30%) >[Possible Omen procced Shred (+30%)]

    Without the mangle debuff, shred doesn’t do much more damage than mangle. Well definitely not 30% more, I will tell you that. Mangling before the shred will cover the difference between using the first mangle over shred, while at the same time increasing the damage of your pounce dot by 30% AND setting you up for an easy 4-5 point (depending on crits) Rip finisher.

    At which point you reapply mangle, rake, and watch your target bleed to death as you wail on him with more mangles or maims or bear dancing.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the combo that works best for me (no Brutal Impact, yes Shredding Attacks) for the fastest killing and minimal downtime. Ideal (for me) for farming, soloing, etc… This works perfect for me on Clefthoof, Ogres, etc…

    Prowl – Pounce – Mangle – Shred – Faerie Fire – Maim – Shred

    I get the first shred off while they are still stunned (thanks to watching my energy ticks carefully before I Pounce). The faerie fire is just filler, it’s really unnecessary, but I have to do something while I’m waiting for more energy.

    Why the Maim, you ask, and not a Mangle or something else? Because if I Maim, I stun them again, meaning they only get in one or two hits on me at all. With Improved Leader of the Pack heals going, I almost always finish off the mob at full health (or just below), which means zero downtime between mobs, except the time it takes to walk up to them (which I use to get more energy).

    If I crit a couple times at first, then I won’t use the Maim because it will kill them off, and the stun is pretty useless if they’re dead already. I’ll Mangle if I feel like it at that point, but usually just hit them once or twice with white damage to finish them off.

  17. Ahram (Ner'Zhul) says:

    Free macro for you guys, /castsequence reset=target Ferocious Bite, Cat Form
    It’s one of the most useful macros you can have if you have 5/5 furor, guaranteed to speed up killing if you don’t finish them off with the FB

  18. Captain Sassafrass says:

    Not bad just wanted to add that in arena my favorite thing to do is pounce, mangle, wait until just before stun wears off, maim, wait again, shred this of course lets u get the damage from the maim in as well as shred. This sadly only works if u will be the only 1 attacking the target to start out. If u are teaming up which more than likely u r i would throw a mangle then a shred instead of consecutive shreds since “for me” it adds about 200 dmg if i dont crit on anything and about 600-700 if i crit on all

  19. Anonymous says:

    As a Part Time druid, I recently found I was still using an attack sequence I’d developed pre-mangle but never updated as more talent points and abilities came online as I leveled.

    I was using the following:
    Ravage->Mangle (was Claw)->Rake->Rip
    which actually worked allright.

    But, I just was reading on some forums and talking to some other druids and now use the following:
    Pounce->Mangle->Shred (some say the mangle and shred beats 2 shreds)
    ->Fairie Fire->either Rake or Mangle for another point and then Rip, or FB if the target is almost dead.

    The thing about bleeds is that they dont scale with Attack Power so they tend to compare badly as you level and get better gear. Pre-mangle days my old sequence probably was comparable, but once you get Mangle and even more so get Outlands gear with AP and lots of Str, it falls behind. To make the most of a Pounce sequence though you need points in Brutal Impact and Shredding Attacks which required me to re-allocate a point or two.

    One thing to keep in mind talent wise is that it seems that damage lost from points given up in Feral Aggression seem to be regained if you put points in Predatory Instincts if you crit decently.

  20. Skips says:

    If its a bit dicey and I have just hit them with furious bite and they arent quite dead and Im on low health then I like to hit catform again for a 40 energy boost from furor and hit them with mangle…its saved my life quite a few times.

  21. shardekra says:

    I play a level 68 (currently) feral druid on Blackrock called Shardekra.

    My prefered opening sequence is Pounce; FFF; Mangle; Shred; (mob is now attacking me); Mangle; Rip if mob has high health, Maim if low, the I wait out most of the Maim CD and shred once more.

    I think that for 2 energy less the Mangle debuff plus shred is worth more than the pure damage output of shred.

  22. Jordon says:

    Ok, for you people saying your attack sequence is
    /prowl
    /pounce (improved)
    /fff
    /mangle
    /shred
    /shred

    or pounce, fff, shred X3 like melnayo said he does.

    With the GCD, and a 4.0 second stun, this will only allow you to get off…
    pounce-1.5 GCD + Shred/Mangle-1.5= 3 seconds of your pounce used up. Leaving you with only 1.0 seconds to choose 1 last attack (+1 with OOC proc).

    I am no theorycrafter by any means but it doesnt seem reasonable.

    Great guide by the way, i shall no longer use claw. THANKS!

  23. Skippy says:

    Jordon that is exactly my attack rotation, I use mangled cause otherwise shred seems to do equal damage to it, after mangle it does more so I would always recommend your first attack is mangle. Its close (.2sec close I would estimate) but you can definately get that last attack off if OoC procs early.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Jordan — kitty has 1.0 GCD.

  25. Corwin says:

    if the mob is nonsquishy – pounce>mangle>shred>(you should have 4 points by this time, of not, stack more agility)FF>finisher>more mangles or shreds if it’s a runner

    if it’s a squish – ravage(if it’s a crit and you have somewhat decent gear mob will be at half hp already)>mangle>maim>shred

    while FF looks good on paper it must only be used as a filler even while solo grinding normal mobs, nothing more, if it’s a long fight against elites or bosses be sure to cast it after the tank has done the first swing and you’re heading for the dps position at mobs back, and if you’re grouped with a laserchicken, he/she casts improved FF on the main target, don’t even waste GCD casting feral one, rogues will love extra +hit, and you can drop some +hit in favor of more crit/agil/AP gear

    and get hitcapped asap (and some expertise), you’ll hate to miss those 2-3k critshreds

  26. Brahm says:

    How’s it going BBB, I stumbled upon this website and have been reading it non stop for the last few days.

    My druid is my 3rd lvl 70 my other two are hunter/rogue and I paid very close attention to shot rotation combo points and other things to get the maximum dps out of those classes. I thought I was doing a good job on my druid until I read this. Not once did i notice the 30% increase in shred dmg from mangle… I felt really dumb after reading this.

    Keep up the great posts.

  27. […] know that I still occasionally get emails from folks that read my Catform DPS sequences post and tell me how they had gotten used to whacking the mobs a certain way, and had never HAD to […]

  28. […] Catform DPS sequences from theBigBearButt.com […]

  29. SweeneyTodd says:

    Very nice post, bear.

    Currently about 3300ish ap, 41crit, and use Everbloom idol for raiding situations for most bosses. Ravage = very high threat burst, best used for.. well.. grinding. Pounce, Mangle, and shred, keeping Mangle up at all times, and ripping if the mob is above 70% hp rocks for damage, keeping your threat low, and all that… though shred crits upwards of 4k… and that is a hefty bit of threat…

    FFF is used… well.. It tends to only come into play on bosses, and otherwise it wastes a GCD, when you try to fit in a Mangle, 3Shred, Mangle, Rip, 2Shred, and Repeat.

    Keep up the good work mate.

    Good Hunting.

  30. SweeneyTodd says:

    oh, and use cower when needed!

    Saved my butt many a time.

  31. Wulf says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I’ve been searching the web for any type of tips for good, burst damage and a proper attack sequence for Feral Kitties.

    Hopefully my finger won’t hurt as much from my old Mangle spamming.

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