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Cityscape Web Enhancement lists an alternate class feature for Druids and Rangers, called Urban Companion:

The character gains the companionship of a smaller but far more intelligent creature than she otherwise would have. This is identical to the sorcerer's ability to summon a familiar (PH 52), including all benefits granted and gained by the familiar, except as noted below. Her functional level for determining the abilities of the companion is equal to her druid level or one-half her ranger level.

Does a character with Urban Companion qualify for the Improved Familiar feat?

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The key to this is in the next sentence below your quote (emphasis mine):

This is identical to the sorcerer's ability to summon a familiar (PH 52), including all benefits granted and gained by the familiar, except as noted below. Her functional level for determining the abilities of the companion is equal to her druid level or one-half her ranger level.

Since the Urban Companion alternate class feature explicitly defines an equivalent arcane caster level for the purpose of obtaining a familiar through this ACF, the familiar tables' normal requirement for an arcane spellcaster level is satisfied by this; therefore, by RAW, characters with Urban Companion qualify for Improved Familiar, analogous to how cleric domains unlock feats for clerics, as they also already have the ability to obtain a familiar (via Urban Companion), and the alignment compatibility prerequisite is simply a restriction on which familiars you can have, not on the ability to take a familiar to begin with.

This text also implements the class-level reduction for Rangers, just like they get for normal animal companions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Urban Companion definitely doesn’t give “arcane caster level,” but then Improved Familiar doesn’t require that, either. Some feats and prestige classes do require that (Complete Arcane emphasizes it for the sake of warlocks). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 21 '15 at 11:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I think he's referring to the table of new familiar choices in Improved Familiar, where it lists minimum "arcane caster level" for taking different familiars \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Apr 22 '15 at 0:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Adeptus Oh, huh. That’s... a poor choice on their part. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 22 '15 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan -- Adeptus is correct in that I'm referring to the familiar tables in Improved Familiar, and yeah, I'll agree with you that it's a very poor choice on their part. \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 22 '15 at 0:20
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It is unlikely there is any firm documentation on this; web enhancements weren't the most well supported thing WotC did, and it came fairly late in the life cycle of 3.5.

That said, the line 'this is identical to the sorcerer's ability to summon a familiar' strongly suggests that it should. This is in many ways just like a class ability granting prerequisite feats like various cleric domains do, so you should meet the 'ability to summon a familiar' prerequisite of Improved Familiar, even if you don't call it a familiar.

However, you still have to meet all the other requirements, including alignment and class-level. And Rangers would still suffer from the equivalent-class-level reduction they normal suffer with animal companions (I don't have the source material in front of me, but I seem to recall ranger levels only counted as half a druid level for determining the companions available. The same would apply to Improved Familiars.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't really complete -- Urban Companion has explicit text in it in order to keep the Improved Familiar class level requirement from getting in the way. See my answer for a more detailed explanation. \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 21 '15 at 3:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added the next line to the quote. I didn't think it was necessary for answering the question, but since it seems to be, I've included it :) \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Apr 21 '15 at 3:51

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