The fastest animal in the world, the cheetah, is now on the endangered species list, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund.(1) This member of the wild cat family can be clocked in at 70 miles per hour when the animal hits running speed. This is pretty fast, although I once had a domestic cat (who probably had a recent wild cat relative due to predatory instinct) who could run just as fast, as she was lightweight and one clever little girl. Anyways, the cheetah is a beautiful spotted cat with an agile body and small head that makes it look so graceful even when walking, much less running. Cheetah kittens are especially adorable, with the soft fur gracing their faces, making them look cuddly and cute, even though as kittens they already have sharp fangs and claws.
Unlike other wild cats such as the panther, lynx, lion, and tiger, the cheetah has a leaner body with long legs which enables the animal to reach such high speeds when running. The jaw, however, is quite small compared to other cats but remains in proportion to the size of its small head. The teeth are smaller too when compared to those of a tiger, for example. Cheetahs are endangered because there is a somewhat false belief that they are responsible for killing livestock on farms in Africa, prompting farm owners to take measures to eliminate the cheetahs.(2)
The natural habitat of the cheetah deserves to be protected wherever they live in Asia and Africa. The population of this beautiful wild cat is around 10,000 but they tend to live in areas where there are people and domestic animals, making it a challenge to keep them in special animal reserves where they can live and reproduce. While the cheetah is not as aggressive as other wild cats, there are still misconceptions about them when they come in contact with other species. Most cheetahs live off of smaller animals such as rabbits, smaller gazelles, and impalas. Like domestic cats, cheetahs also purr, usually when they are happy, and it is more common for female cheetahs to purr around their cubs.(3)
The majority of cheetahs live in Namibia today although they can be found throughout other parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India. Several mutations of the cheetah exist, notably the king cheetah. This cheetah has three black stripes running down its back with the typical cheetah spots covering the rest of the body. This makes for a very striking combination, as if they have been painted on by someone.(4)
Conserving the cheetah may prove to be a challenge for wildlife conservators. As a rule, cheetahs have difficulty breeding when kept in captivity and they also have reproductive problems which leads to high infant mortality rates and disease susceptibility. The cheetah is a beautiful and rare cat in the feline species and is worth preserving and educating about to others.