Paladins have their divine bond with a special mount, and rangers and druids can bond with an animal companion. But many religions – in both the real world and in fantasy – have animals that are considered sacred or divine, creatures that are somehow important to and in many ways a symbol of the deity in question. A cleric who wishes a divine animal companion must take the optional class feature as a 1st-level cleric; this option – like the standard cleric class features – is not again available later.
At 1st level, a cleric can choose to forgo the domain power from one of his two domains in order to gain a special divine animal companion. This companion is similar to a druid or ranger’s animal companion, but not as powerful at higher levels (though sometimes more powerful at lower levels). A cleric is also limited in the type of animal that can be selected to the animal or animals favored by his deity.
If a player takes the divine animal companion optional class feature at 1st level, this option replaces the granted power from one of the cleric’s two domains. For example, a cleric decides to take the divine animal companion feature and in turn gives up the acid dart granted power from her Earth domain. She can never acquire the acid dart ability, but will still gain the acid resistance ability at 6th level as that is a separate ability.
A cleric’s divine animal companion’s power does increase as the cleric rises in power, similar to how a druid or ranger’s companion improves, except the rate of improvement is much slower for a cleric’s animal companion. When first summoned, the divine animal companion has the same stats as per a normal creature of its type.
Link (Ex): At 1st cleric level, the cleric forms a mental link with her divine animal companion. This power is similar to a wizard’s empathic link with his familiar. Through the link, the cleric can sense her divine animal companion up to a range of 1 mile. The cleric and the companion are able to communicate basic information through the link (the amount of information and detail of the information determined by the animal’s intelligence).
Ability Score Increase (Ex): At 10th cleric level, the divine animal companion gains a +1 bonus to any one ability score.
Totem Animal Apotheosis (Su): At 15th cleric level, the divine animal companion’s bond with the cleric and their deity is so strong that the companion becomes a totem animal, acquiring the Totem Animal simple template.
If a cleric’s animal companion dies the cleric can acquire a new one, but must wait 30 days or until advancing one class level, whichever comes first. If the cleric’s deity has more than one favored animal, the new companion may be of a different type than the one which perished.
Every deity has at least one and sometimes several animals (and in a few cases, vermin, magical beasts or even tiny dragons) that are favored. You will need to determine what types of creatures are favored by the deities of your campaign.
Favored animals are also sometimes called totem animals. Sometimes, these animals will act as messengers for a deity or a deity’s priests. Not every animal of a deity’s favored type is truly a totem animal, however. A true totem animal has been touched by the deity’s power, becoming sentient and more powerful. True totem animals can usually speak one or two languages, reason, and make logical decisions.
See PathfinderCommunity.Net for a list of official Pathfinder Setting Gods and Totem Animals.