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The Cheetah

The Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is sometimes referred to as the smallest of the Big Cats. It is not a member of the Big Cat genus, Panthera.  These are sometimes also called the roaring cats.  Cheetahs do not roar, but can make a wide range of sounds.  Once when some visitors were viewing the Cheetahs at Monarto Zoo, they were astounded to hear this large animal me-ow just like a domestic Pussy Cat.

Unusual Cat

The Cheetah does not behave like most cats.  It does not climb trees, and its claws are only partly retractable.  Instead, its design appears to have sacrificed several of the abilities of most cats to gain extra speed.


The Cheetah appears to be the fastest land animal over a short distance.  They can run at over 100 Kilometres an hour (60 Miles an hour).  They also accelerate extremely quickly.  Their acceleration is much faster than most cars.


Cheetahs mostly live in areas with long grass so they are well camouflaged and their prey cannot see them.  They attempt to get close to the small antelope or other medium sized animal, and then catch it with their phenomenal speed.

No animal can outrun a Cheetah over a short distance, but most of their usual prey animals can run quickly and keep it up for much further than a Cheetah.

When the Cheetah catches up with the prey it attempts to knock down the animal with a blow from its paw.

The Cheetah uses up a lot of energy in each chase, and needs to rest before the next one.   Only about half the chases are successful.


Once the Cheetah has killed, it has to eat quickly.  There are many other animals that will come along and chase off the Cheetah to steal its meal.  Leopards, lions, Hyenas, Hunting Dogs and Leopards will all do this.

An injured Cheetah will not be able to hint effectively, and they abandon their meal rather than fight and risk an injury.

I have even seen footage of a single Human chasing off a Cheetah from its kill.

Man Eating

Humans are not a menu item for the Cheetah.  An adult Human is certainly on the big size for this cat to tackle.  However, although I have never seen a report of an attack, young children out alone could be at risk.


There are perhaps 10,000 Cheetahs left in the wild.  This is about a tenth of the number that existed a hundred years ago.  Their range is greatly reduced; there are no Cheetahs left in India and very few in Iran.  The genetic variation of the surviving Cheetahs is very low.

The main threat is habitat loss and competition with Human Beings both for space and for prey species.

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