***Note: this information is from before Cataclysm. There have been major changes to the class. See my sources below for more updated information.***
When I rolled Druid on the first character I legitimately got to level 80, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I leveled Feral Cat, and when I hit 80, I realized Druids have lots of options. They’re the only class that can go ranged DPS, melee DPS, raid healer, tank healer, or tank. I enjoyed leveling with my kitty, so I decided to raid and continue all the end-game content as Feral DPS. Little did I know that the Feral Cat has arguably the hardest rotation for effective DPS.
Most people don’t know how to play their characters when they first hit 80, especially not for end game content. The best place for help is from the internet, and I’ve included some of the best links below. Once you’ve read up on your rotation, practice it in 5-mans or Heroic dummies. (Heroic training dummies are near the Rogue trainer in Stormwind and near the bank in Ironforge). Talk to Guildies and friends who have respectable Feral DPS too.
Even with all this information, it was still hard for me to develop the perfect rotation, so I’m just going to post my rotation and strategy. The number one thing is to hit the Armor Penetration cap. The soft cap is fairly easy to hit, but the hard cap is insanely hard to hit without counting procs. Trinkets, gems, and gear with Arp are going to be your new best friends (Needle-Encrusted Scorpion and Deathbringer’s Will are quite good, and Jewelcrafters can make Dragon’s Eye gems with extra Arp for their own gear). Definitely get your 4-tier bonus on your Tier 10 gear.
The entire purpose of kitty DPS is to keep everything up at once. You have to juggle all your buffs and debuffs for maximum DPS. My rotation: Pounce up to the target, Feral Faerie Fire, Mangle and Rake. Savage Roar when you have 2-3 combos, then use Shred (and Rake when it’s down) to get 5 combos, then Rip. Use Tiger’s Fury when you have less than 50 Energy, and use Berserk when you’ll have the whole time for pure DPS. You can use it right away, or once you’ve gotten into your rotation a bit. I like to use it right after SR is up.
Now is the time to consider your timers; do you have time for a Ferocious Bite? Savage Roar may be down soon, so get some combo points up for that. You may have to switch targets or do something related to the boss, so keep that in mind (Is Sindragosa about to go into Air Phase? Then make sure Mangle, Rip, and Rake are all up, and let SR drop). Two very important things: don’t clip your timers too much, and Shred, Shred, Shred. Shred will refresh Rip (if you have the Glyph) up to 3 times, which is insanely necessary, and it’s your bread and butter for getting combo points. With clipping, if there’s 3 seconds left til Rip is down and you have 5 combos, hit it the second it goes down, and not before (unless there’s an upcoming boss mechanic). It’s very tempting to hit Rake before it’s up, with only a 6 second debuff, but resist!
One thing you might be thinking is, why spec feral kitty? Why not just faceroll Boomkin and only worry about 4 spells and your procs? This is partially related to the whole ranged vs. melee debate. Take ICC as an example. On the trash pulls, the Feral Swipe can pull some serious DPS from a well-geared Cat, and a Boomkin also excels at big AoE pulls. On Marrowgar, a less geared Boomkin will probably beat a Cat, because they can DPS during Bonestorm and easily switch to Bonespikes without moving around so much. The Gunship Battle can be a pain as melee, whether you’re stuck on the cannons watching your overall DPS tank or having to jump over every time the caster comes out. But on single target uninterrupted fights like Saurfang, the chart-toppers are usually going to be melee, even if they have to switch to the Blood Beasts sometimes. A rogue and a cat are always among the top three in my Guild runs on that pull.
There are always benefits to being ranged or melee on any given fight, but you have to go with the play style that suits you. You can pull mad DPS as a cat; it’s a challenge, but you’ll often find this is why not many people spec Cat, so you’ll be respected as one of the few good kitties on your server. Plus, who wants to be a big furry Boomchicken, when you can Pounce and Swipe as a cute and ferocious Kitty? I started out being out-DPSed by most of the people in our Guild ICC runs, even when my gear said I shouldn’t be. But now, I have a 6k gear score and have been the top or in the top in AoE pulls and single target pulls, even against mages, boomkins, and rogues. It was a frustrating process, but overall very rewarding as I measured how far I came, from pulling 6k on Saurfang ICC10 then to doing 10-11k on ICC25 Heroic now. If you have any questions or comments, post your thoughts below!
www.Elitistjerks.com is the best resource for specific details on Feral DPS. You can find links to other pages on gear, gems, hit cap, enchants, etc: http://www.wow.com/tag/feral-cat-dps/ The Fluid Druid’s endgame gearing guide: http://fluiddruid.net/2010/01/the-33-cat-gearing-guide-part-1/ Get the Curse Client to manage your WoW addons, and then get BadKitty, which monitors your debuffs and cooldowns. If you want to see my spec and gear, look up Nyssae on Kirin Tor at http://wow-heroes.com/ and http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Kirin+Tor&cn=Nyssae And of course, thanks to my Guildies in Sovereign for all their help! Here’s our website (still under construction) if you want to learn more about our Guild: http://wow-sovereign.com/