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DnD Tabaxi 5e guide

Planning a totally meow-some Dungeons and Dragons character? Here are all the rules, advice, and lore you’ll need to play a DnD Tabaxi 5e.

An armoured Tabaxi 5e wielding a scimitar

DnD Tabaxi are a rare species of cat-like humanoids, best known for their impressive dexterity and insatiable curiosity. This guide covers everything there is to know about the Tabaxi 5e, including the rules you’ll need to play one. You’ll also find plenty of character build advice here, as well as a lore deep dive to inspire Tabaxi roleplay.

If the Tabaxi is your preferred pick from the DnD races list, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover the best DnD classes for your build, and we’ve even thrown in some DnD character creator examples that’ll help you start playing quick. With our help, your cat will always land on its feet.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Tabaxi:

Wizards of the Coast art of two DnD Tabaxi 5e

Tabaxi stats

Your character’s Tabaxi stats will differ depending on which DnD books you’re using, as there are two different Tabaxi builds in the current version of 5e. The first can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters (or Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, if you’re playing a Critical Role campaign). The second version is found in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, and it was intended to replace the older Tabaxi.

Here’s how these two Tabaxi character options differ:

Volo’s Tabaxi

Ability score increase +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma
Size Medium
Speed 30ft walk, 20ft climb
Features Darkvision (60ft), Feline Agility, Cat’s Claws, Cat’s Talent


Like many other DnD races, the Tabaxi can see in 60 feet of dim light as if it were bright light. Plus they can see up to 60 feet of darkness as if it were dim light. When using Darkvision, the Tabaxi see in greyscale.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e riding a bird

Feline Agility

On your turn in combat, you can choose to move double your speed until the end of that turn. If you do so, you must move zero feet on a turn before you can use Feline Agility again.

Cat’s Claws

Your claws can be used to make unarmed attacks, and they deal 1d4 + your Strength modifier in slashing damage.

Cat’s Talent

You are naturally proficient in two DnD skills – Perception and Stealth.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Mordenkainen’s Tabaxi

Ability score increase +1 and +2 any two stats, or +1 any three
Size Medium or small
Speed 30ft walk, 30ft climb
Features Darkvision (60ft), Feline Agility, Cat’s Claw, Cat’s Talent


This feature is identical to the legacy Tabaxi’s Darkvision. Tabaxi can see in 60 feet of dim light as if it were bright light, and they can see up to 60 feet of darkness as if it were dim light. Darkvision doesn’t allow Tabaxi to see colors in reduced light.

Feline Agility

Exactly the same as in Volo’s Guide. As a reminder: on your turn in combat, you can use Feline Agility to move double your speed until the end of that turn. If you do so, you must move zero feet on a turn before you can use this feature again.

Cat’s Claws

You can still make unarmed strikes with your claws, but you now deal 1d6 + your Strength modifier in slashing damage.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Cat’s Talent

Just like before, you’re proficient in Perception and Stealth.

Which version should I use?

If you have access to both versions of the Tabaxi, the version in Monsters of the Multiverse is a clear winner. The extra damage makes your Cat Claws feel a little less useless, and the buffed climbing speed is another obvious advantage.

If you only have access to Volo’s version of the Tabaxi, the species is still perfectly playable. However, it offers more downsides than the more recent version. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Tabaxi character creator

Need help with your first (or fifth) Tabaxi build? Here’s some handy advice, plus a few ready-made DnD character builds:

Tabaxi classes

Cat’s Talent, Cat’s Claws, and the ability to climb are the only two rough constants across every Tabaxi character, so whatever way you want your cat to land, building a character that benefits from general agility is your best option. This means you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to optimal Tabaxi classes.

A Tabaxi can make a suitably tanky combatant – the speed offered by Feline Agility means your character can always stay within melee range, and the option to perform unarmed strikes never hurts in a pinch. Plus, the stats for Mordenkainen’s Tabaxi mean you could easily take points in Strength – DnD Barbarians, Fighters, and DnD Paladins are all solid options here. None of these classes really benefit from the (Wisdom) Perception proficiency offered by Cat’s Talent, but a dexterous DnD Fighter may get some use out of the Stealth proficiency.

A jack-of-all-trades DnD Bard can make the most of the extra proficiencies from Cat’s Talent. Plus, Feline Agility and climbing abilities mean they can stay away from danger to perform their party buffs.

Tabaxis also make strong scouts if you choose the DnD Ranger class. You could use a build to buff the Tabaxi’s Wisdom as well as Dexterity – then you’re getting a lot of mileage out of the Perception proficiency as well as the Stealth options. Plus, those melee fighting options can come in handy.

A Tabaxi Monk 5e is also an optimal choice. High levels of Dexterity and speed are useful here due to a lack of armor, and a more customized Tabaxi build can swap the Charisma bonus out for Wisdom. Mordenkainen’s version of Cat’s Claws can give low-level Monks a slightly higher damage die for a bit, and Monks can boost this feature further by switching the Strength modifier out for a Dexterity modifier.

We’ve saved the best classes for last, though. Given their original proficiencies and ability scores, Tabaxis were basically destined to be DnD Rogues. There are a lot of options with Charisma and Dexterity as your main ability scores, but using a more customizable Tabaxi build can open up some of the Rogue’s subclasses that are more reliant on Intelligence and Wisdom, too. Plus, Darkvision, climbing, and the ability to move over long distances will come in very handy.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e aiming a bow and arrow

Tabaxi builds

For our example builds, we’ll use the Tabaxi from Monsters of the Multiverse (it just does everything slightly better). We’ll also use Standard Array to calculate our DnD stats. This is just to keep things simple – if you prefer rolling stats or the Points Buy method, feel free to sub that in instead.

Tabaxi Rogue

First, let’s decide the Tabaxi Rogue starting stats:

Strength 12
Dexterity 15
Constitution 14
Intelligence 8
Wisdom 13
Charisma 10

Give yourself a +2 Constitution and a +1 Dexterity bonus. You want to be nimble, but it helps if you can soak up damage on those rare occasions that you do get hit.

Onto DnD subclasses. The Scout subclass allows you to fully capitalize on your Tabaxi’s movement-based buffs. You’ll gain a reaction that allows you to move half your feet without triggering DnD opportunity attacks, and at ninth level your walking and climbing speed increase by ten feet. Combine this with Feline Agility, and you’re about to get silly levels of mobility.

Later on, you’ll get advantage on initiative rolls, and you’ll gain advantage against the first creature you hit during a round of combat. At even higher levels, you can perform a second Sneak Attack as a bonus action.

Take the Mobile 5e feat at level four for even more movement speed, and reduced opportunity attacks. After that, focus on buffing your Dexterity with ability score increases to maximize your damage output.

The plan for this build is simple, but it’s uber-satisfying to play. Go first, move far, and strike before anyone can stop you.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Tabaxi Monk

Here are the starting stats for your Tabaxi Monk:

Strength 12
Dexterity 14
Constitution 13
Intelligence 8
Wisdom 15
Charisma 10

Go for a +2 Dexterity and a +1 Wisdom boost to get both key stats to 16 from the get-go.

The Way of Mercy is our favorite DnD Monk subclass, and we think it pairs well with the Tabaxi’s unique bursts of speed. Hand of Healing and Hand of Harm, which let you dole out hit points or necrotic damage, both rely on you being able to touch your target. Feline Agility will help you activate these features at exactly the right time, regular movement speed be damned.

Again, the Mobile feat is an excellent buff for this build, granting you extra movement speed. And since your main features are heavily tied to your Wisdom modifier, this should be the focus of future ability score increases. 

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Tabaxi lore

The appeal of playing a DnD cat person is already strong, even if you don’t know the species’ backstory. But if you want to create a character with strong ties to your campaign’s DnD setting, a little lore goes a long way. Here’s some useful Tabaxi lore to help with your character concept:

Tabaxi origin

In the Forgotten Realms, the Tabaxi originate from a continent beyond Faerûn. Most commonly, they’re assumed to hail from the jungle continent of Maztica.

Despite their far-off origins, plenty of Tabaxi can be found in Faerûn. Some live in the jungles of Chult, forming clans so reclusive that they don’t even trade with other Tabaxi. Others live a more nomadic lifestyle, traveling the land alone or in very small groups.

Volo’s Guide to Monsters tells us that these adventuring Tabaxi are driven by an all-consuming curiosity. It’s said that the Tabaxi’s creator god, The Cat Lord, gave every Tabaxi one cat-like trait. Those who got the curiosity of a cat are often drawn to a life of adventure.

Tabaxi personality

An insatiable curiosity means that many Tabaxi value knowledge and discovery over other forms of wealth or excitement. They love to tell stories and uncover secrets, though they may lose interest in an object or person once they’ve learned all there is to know.

A Tabaxi’s natural nimbleness lends itself well to combat, dungeon-crawling, and even thieving. Less curious Tabaxi might instead become exceptional crafters, hunters, merchants, or DnD Clerics.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Tabaxi 5e

Tabaxi appearance

Tabaxis are humanoids with fur and feline features that resemble big cats. Like cats, their appearance can vary drastically. However, in most depictions, they closely resemble Leopards and Jaguars. This distinguishes them from other cat folk in The Forgotten Realms, such as the DnD Leonin.

Tabaxi names

Tabaxi names can be a complex affair. The first thing you need to know is each Tabaxi is part of a clan, and these clans are given names based on a distinct geographical feature in or near a clan’s territory. Clan names might include Snoring Mountain, Roaming Islands, Tranquil Shore, or Elder Lake.

Every Tabaxi is given a single, unisex name – one that’s based on their clan’s name, as well as astrology, prophecies, their clan’s history, and plenty of other factors. It’s no surprise that many Tabaxi choose to go by a slightly simpler nickname. For example, Cloud on the Mountaintop may just prefer to be called Cloud.

While complex names give you plenty of ways to be creative, we’ve got a list of Tabaxi names in case you need some inspiration. Here are some Tabaxi 5e names to choose from:

  • Storm on the Horizon
  • Seven Thundercloud
  • Active Fang
  • Sunshine at Night
  • Left-Handed Hummingbird
  • Fallen Twig
  • Nimble Owl
  • Breath of Fresh Air

Want to finish fleshing out your DnD character sheet? Here are the best DnD backgrounds for your Tabaxi character.