I performed a Gatherer search for Fourth Edition creatures with the subtypes, “bird,” “cat,” “snake,” or “wolf,” for use in a special project. There are ten: one Red, four Green, three White, one Blue, and one Colorless.

Since the stat blocks are pretty large, and I’ve revised the rules text to be more straightforward without changing how the rules work (which you’ll know is difficult if you’re familiar with how finicky rules interactions in Magic are), I figured it’d probably be a good idea to just obscure most of this post behind a “more” tag.

While working on “The Five States of Life,” I remembered something I’d come up with earlier — a starting place for integrating animals and beasts alongside humanoids, without a significant departure from the system. Even if animals and beasts don’t act or communicate in a way humans understand, they aren’t strictly disadvantaged.

Part of my process was to start with a fairly small group and work my way up from there. I wanted some creatures that have interacted with humans at various points throughout history, and can easily be imagined to be about the same size as, smaller than, or larger than humans. I made a list of four: dogs, cats, snakes, and birds.

They could be companions, familiars, or lone creatures encountered in the wild. The reason for starting with Magic: the Gathering creatures, is mostly just to have a place to start. I’m contemplating flying, poison, vigilance, first strike, and banding.

Bird Maiden (2R) 1/2
Flying (Creatures with flying can’t be blocked by creatures without.)

Birds of Paradise (G) 0/1
Flying
Tap this creature to add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Marsh Viper (3G) 1/2
Whenever this creature deals damage to a player, that player gets two poison counters. (If a player ever has ten or more poison counters, they lose the game.)

Nafs Asp (G) 1/1
Whenever this creature deals damage to a player, that player must pay one mana before their next draw step, or they lose one life.

Timber Wolves (G) 1/1
Banding (Any number of creatures you control with banding, and up to one without, may attack or block as a group. If any of the creatures in the group block or are blocked, you decide how to divide any damage taken among the creatures in the group.)

Osai Vultures (1W) 1/1
Flying
At the beginning of each end step, if any creature died this turn, put a carrion counter on this creature.
Remove two carrion counters from this creature: it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Savannah Lions (W) 2/1

Tundra Wolves (W) 1/1
First strike (Creatures with first strike deal combat damage before creatures without. If a creature takes lethal damage as a result, it dies without dealing combat damage.)

Zephyr Falcon (1U) 1/1
Flying
Vigilance (Creatures with vigilance don’t tap when they attack.)

Clockwork Avian (5) 0/4
Flying
This creature enters the battlefield with four +1/+0 counters on it. If at any time it has more than four such counters, remove +1/+0 counters from it until only four remain.
Each time this creature attacks or blocks, remove one +1/+0 counter from it at the end of combat.
During your upkeep, you may pay X mana, and tap this creature to put X +1/+0 counters on it.