This is a free-to-use infographic describing the cheetah. It has to be very compact but the salient points are made. The cheetah is almost entirely built for speed. It is the way the cat has evolved. It’s talent and ability to catch prey is built around speed at up to around 70 mph (max) for about 400 meters. And they have great acceleration. They are a bit like a sports car. Beyond 400 meters they become overheated and have to stop to cool down. They have to catch their prey quickly to succeed. And they live in more open landscapes where their acceleration and speed advantages can be used to good effect.
On the topic of prey animals – which is very relevant because the cheetah looks like it does because of its prey animals – ‘wherever cheetah’s are found there are one or more species of gazelle or gazelle-like antelope in the 20-50 kilogram range’ (Mel and Fiona Sunquist in Wild Cats of the World). These are speedy prey animals. The cheetah needs to be the speediest land animal to catch them.
Where there is less cover for the cheetah to stalk prey ‘cheetahs sometimes approach prey at a trot, then within 200 meters or so shift into high speed’ (Sunquists). If the prey animal stands their ground the cheetah is unlikely to attach them. As is common with other wild cats it is the flight response of prey animals which triggers their attack.
I recall the best way to deter a puma in the US if you encounter one when hiking is to stand your ground, make yourself as big as possible, make noise and look mad! You’ll probably be okay.
RELATED: What’s faster: greyhound or cheetah?
Unlike the domestic cat the cheetah’s claws are semi-retractable. They are permanently out because this superb cat needs them ready for griping the ground as she weaves left and right while chasing speedy prey trying to dodge their attacker.
Click the link below for a page on the cheetah description:
Below are some more articles on the cheetah speed.