Cheetahs can meow. This cheetah also hisses, and their meow is very gentle and kitten-like. Both these sounds are made by domestic cats as we all know. The excellent book I have on the wild cats does not refer to the cheetah meowing. This is probably not surprising because the cheetah meow is non-standard when compared to the domestic cat meow. There is a hint of a bark in it.
In the Reddit video (which may disappear – update: it did disappear and has been replaced by a more permanent video 😃) my gut feeling is that a male is calling another male companion with a meow, and he comes up close while purring. These are obviously captive cheetahs. In the wild male cheetahs are either solitary or they form coalitions of two or three. Some coalitions are brothers, but the can be unrelated.
They can be quite friendly and domesticate fairly well (relative to most other wild cat species) which is why rich Middle Easterners keep them as pets and why potentates used them for hunting. And that goes back centuries. The cheetah pet business in the Middle East is a great tragedy for cheetah conservation. Cubs are taken from their mothers to feed this business. It is a callous and uncaring business. There is a lack of enlightenment.
RELATED: Hunting with Cheetahs
This cheetah was one of nine that were shipped from Namibia to India to rewild India with cheetahs as they were extirpated from that country thanks to hunting of the animal. They became extinct in India about 70 years ago. This is a bold project, and it is unlikely to succeed. I feel sorry for the cheetah who is clearly upset and wants to be back where she belongs.
There is an interesting overlap between the big wild cats and domestic cats concerning the sounds that they make. Curious people often ask whether the big wild cats made sounds like domestic cats and the answer is, yes, but the wild cats also make many more uniquely wild cat sounds some of which are noticeably aggressive and intimidating.
Cheetahs have a rich vocal repertoire. In addition to the hiss and meow, this relatively unaggressive large wild cat species yelps. This is a short high pitched ‘yow’ type sound which can be heard as far away as 2 kilometres apparently. The cheetah yelp is a long-range call therefore much like the lion roar (in terms of distance travelled). It is used by a mother to make contact with her cubs. It is also used by siblings to contact other siblings. You have probably heard it on television in one of those wildlife programmes.
When making the yelp the cheetah opens and closes her mouth rapidly. The effort causes the cat’s abdomen and head to jerk.
The cheetah ‘churr’ (or stutter bark) is another contact call. It is employed by mothers to call or encourage their cubs and by males to relocate their siblings and under other circumstances. This vocalisation can also indicate oestrus when used by a female. Males also make this sound when interested in a female.
Other cheetah sounds include the: gurgle (friendly close range), growl (aggression between cheetahs at kills), moan (when threatened or attacked by lions, leopards or other cheetahs).
As mentioned, cheetahs also purr just like our fluffy kitties only much louder.
Note: this page has been upgraded and republished. It was first published around 4 years ago.