Categories: Cheetah

Can cheetahs be black?

Melanistic cheetah. This is a photoshop edit. A rather crude one but it is impossible to create a true melanistic appearance for a spotted wild cat. Photo: PoC.

Yes, cheetahs CAN (i.e. theoretically) be black but there aren’t any today, in my opinion. Black cheetahs have been recorded but they are extremely rare. White cheetahs have also been recorded but they are also very rare. Mel and Fiona Sunquist (Wild Cats of the World) rely on N. Wrogemann in Cheetah under the sun – 1975 for their information on this. FYI: Black cheetahs, if they still exist, will not be pure black. They’ll have a visible but faint pattern and be dark charcoal in color. My photoshopped image is meant to reflect this.

There is a record of a black cheetah from Kenya and ‘another from Zambia’. There are other anomalous cheetah coats such as a white cheetah given to the Emperor Jahangir by Raja Bir Singh Deo in 1608. The cat had blue spots and a whitish blue coat. ‘Blue’ is dilute black so this cat carried the dilute gene (or a version of it) as carried by dilute calico cats for instance.

Black cheetahs are referred to as melanistic cheetahs because of the excess of the pigment called ‘melanin’ in their hair strands.

A Google image search for ‘black cheetahs’ produces nothing except for black jaguars and leopards and other species. A video purporting to be about a black cheetah is not. It is a stupid fake video.

I don’t believe that there are any melanistic cheetahs on the planet at 2020. Wrong? Please tell me urgently! And provide a photo if you can. There are melanistic variants of other wild cat species such as the bobcat, serval and puma, however.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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