How Fast Can A Cheetah Run?

by Michael
(London, UK)

How fast can a cheetah run? This is a question that often arises because the cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet. Sometimes a little bit of exaggeration can creep into the claims.

domestic cat running

The humble domestic cat can run at about 30 mph top speed. Photo by Malingering

A recent article in the newspaper prompted me to revisited the subject and this page is, therefore, an update on a comprehensive page that I built about cheetah speed. I explain on the page how cheetahs do it (see cheetah speed). I can more or less summarise that page in one or two lines here in respect of the findings. The most conclusive and accurate test of cheetah speed was made over a set course, 220 yards (201.2 metres). The cheetah was a 35 kg female; an orphaned cat raised on a Kenyan farm and the timings took place in Kenya.

cheetah walking

The cheetah is built for speed not endurance – photo by sallylondon

The start was a running start, meaning she was running at the point where timing began. Over three runs she averaged 7 seconds for the 220 yards, which works out at 64 miles per hour or 103 kilometres per hour or 29 metres per second (Timed running speed of a cheetah by N.C.C. Sharp (School of Physical Education and Sport, Brunel University)). I think that you will find that this is the most definitive measurement of cheetah speed except for the following:

In a Times newspaper article of 11th September 2009 a cheetah called Sarah, who at the time of the recorded speed was 8 years old, covered the standard 100 metres race distance in 6.13 seconds. It does not say, but this must be from a standing start when compared with the 200 metres course mentioned above which took only a little longer to cover. Sarah is claimed to have set the new land speed record for all animals. But what about the Kenyan cheetah I mentioned?

This of course puts Usain Bolts 9.58 second world record for the 100 metres into perspective. However if Sarah had made a full flying start she would have completed the 100 metres in a little over half the time if she was as fast as the Kenyan cheetah. This indicates to me that the Kenyan cheetah may have been the faster animal.

The great flexibility in the body of the cheetah makes her designed for sprinting over say a maximum of about 400 metres, which incidentally would make her good at 400 metres runner too. Usain Bolt is also good at 400 metres and originally trained to race at that distance but he found the training too hard (he admitted this)!

Note please: the original video of a cheetah being timed over a course has been removed as the maker of it removed it from YouTube – no idea why.

Kenyan cheetah – tame to wild cheetah64 mph (103 kph)
Cheetah Sarah (sprint champion) – 8 yr old cat60 mph (96 kph)
Good Domestic cat30 mph (58 kph)
Best Human30 mph (58 kph) – approx (28 mph might be more accurate) – this is over 200 metre distance

What about other fast animals? Well, the horse is fast too, but is built for endurance and speed not just speed. The fastest a horse has run is reportedly 43 mph over a 400 metres course from a standing start. A good, humble domestic cat can run as fast as the world’s fastest man (30 mph). Now that puts the domestic cat in perspective too.

Greyhounds can do 33.5 mph and the serval wild cat 50 mph. Thompsons gazelle can reach 59 mph. But the most impressive of all, for me, is the Mongolian Ass, a very humble animal none of us have heard of. This creature can cover 16 miles (28,000 yards) at an average speed of 30 mph.


  1. Motions of the Running Cheetah and Horse. Author Milton Hildebrand. Source: Journal of Mammalogy, Vol 40, No.4 (Nov.1959), pages 481-495.
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Times Archive
  4. Timed running speed of a cheetah by N.C.C. Sharp (School of Physical Education and Sport, Brunel University)

How Fast Can A Cheetah Run? to Wild Cat Species

Comments for
How Fast Can A Cheetah Run?

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Dec 09, 2010 hi
by: Anonymous


Dec 07, 2010 wow
by: Anonymous

wow man

Dec 02, 2010 cool
by: kily


Nov 26, 2010 wow
by: Anonymous

wow this was so cool i a doing a project at school on animals all sorts of animals but this website was amazing me now 🙂

Jul 17, 2010 Impala Speed
by: Anonymous

what about the impala? I’ve read that it can reach speeds of up to 80! Let me know please.

Apr 16, 2010 army gurl
by: army gurl

wow thats amazing of how fast a cheetah can run!!!!!!!!

Jan 21, 2010 Amazing
by: Raegan

wow thats amazing!!!!! i would love to runthat fast!!! that little girl is faster than me!!!! LOLZ!

Dec 15, 2009 GREAT
by: Megg

I did not sit down to read this passage but, i got some very usefull information from it, thanks!

Oct 23, 2009 Hi cyco
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Hi cyco — pleasure. The information here is accurate I can pretty well guarantee that. So if someone says you are wrong, tell them no, I am correct!

Oct 22, 2009 woww
by: cyco

this is soo heplfull! i needed to know all these facts for school and you answered all of them ! THANK YOU 😀

Sep 11, 2009 “Cheetah sppeeds”
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

Excellent informative article.I never knew that cats were as fast as the fastest human and now we know the difficulties of catching “CAT BURGLARS”!

Sep 11, 2009 Agreed
by: Michael

It is a great shot from Flickr and well known one. One of the classics and I am pleased to be able to use it and thank malingering for his or her generosity in allowing publication under a creative commons license. It almost looks unreal but I think it is real.

I also agree that only the fastest domestic cats can run 30 mph. My girl couldn’t but she can still shift at aged 85 (human years) and despite being a little portly.

Sep 11, 2009 Excellent shot
by: Anonymous

What an excellent shot – that picture of the running kitten. Malingering’s camera caught an instant that – although we see it – rarely stays long enough on the retina to be noticed. Btw. the kitten’s name seems to be Zumi.

As the article says, Wikipedia list the domestic cat at 30 MPH. That’s actually the same as the lion and a bit faster than the Bengal tiger. Surprising to me.

I too am amazed that the fastest domestic cat equals Usain Bolt. Well, I suppose that only goes for the most athletic cats, but then I’m no Bolt either, so my old moggie will probably still outrun me. 😉

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