The answer to the question is Yes. History bears this out. It depends on the level of domestication that one expects and wants. There are many examples of tame cheetahs working with rich owners. Does ‘tame’ mean ‘domesticated’? I don’t think so but there is not a lot of difference. Anyway, you never really remove the wild cat from the wild cat including the cheetah.
Here is some information about the association of the cheetah with people which supports the view that cheetahs can be domesticated to a certain extent but falling short of domestic cats.
The association of cheetahs with people goes back 4,000 years or more. Cheetahs wearing collars are on a silver ornament dated between 700 and 300 BC. A cheetah-like cat is depicted on a Mesopotamian seal dated from the third millennium BC. The cat is on a leash.
Pharaohs from ancient Egypt believed that the cheetah carried their spirits away after death as they also believed the cat was the fastest animal on land.
In the Middle Ages in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia tame cheetahs were used to hunt gazelle, foxes and hares. One Armenian ruler apparently owned 100 cheetahs. In Russia and Mongolia, hundreds of years ago, they also used cheetahs to hunt.
The first Indian potentate to use cheetahs to hunt was Akbar the Great. In 1555 he was given a cheetah named Fatehbaz. He devised a new method to train the cat. At one stage he reportedly possessed 1,000 cheetahs with which he hunted gazelles and blackbuck.
In Europe nobility hunted with tame cheetahs for around 1000 years. Frederick II, accompanied by a huge entourage and an assortment of animals including cheetahs, travelled to Italy in 1231.
I could go on but I have made the point: cheetahs can be domesticated to a certain extent and there are countless examples of cheetahs being friendly with humans even up to today. There are examples on television of rangers being friendly with cheetahs. They are quite a retiring and non-aggressive cat. I am reminded of the snow leopard. This, too, is a cat which ostensibly could be domesticated as they also are less aggressive than typical big cats.
The important point however is that no human should think about domesticating a cheetah. All the facts listed above demonstrate a typically self-indulgent attitude by humans towards beautiful wild cats. It is all wrong. The cats should be left alone. If people want to do something good with respect to cheetahs and all wild cat species they should stop breeding and give the cats more space in which to live and allow them to avoid farmers’ livestock. When a cheetah is forced to live on a farm he will be killed at the end of the day by the farmer protecting his assets.
People like to ‘possess’ the beautiful and exceptional. The cheetah is both being the fastest land animal. For God’s sake leave them alone. Let them run wild and free. This is their gift to the world.
Source for history: Wild Cats of the World page 20. ISBN: 0-226-77999-8 – buy this book if you want to know about wild cat species.