Cheetah, or Hunting Leopard, an animal of the cat family. Once abundant from Israel eastwards through northern India, the cheetah is now found in the wild only in isolated areas of the Middle East and adjacent regions to the north and south. The cheetah is an endangered species whose numbers have been greatly reduced by overhunting and destruction of its natural habitat.
Although a true cat, the cheetah resembles the dog, especially the greyhound, in many respects. The cheetah is the swiftest of all land animals; it can run 70 miles per hour (113 km/h) for short distances. Its legs are long and its paws are small. Unlike other members of the cat family, it has short, unsheathed claws.
The adult cheetah's body is about 50 inches (127 cm) long. Its long, bushy tail is about half the length of the body. The cheetah's color ranges from a tawny yellow to a pale buff or grayish white. It is uniformly spotted on its upper sides. The underparts are white and unspotted from chin to tail. A distinctive black line extends from the eye to the corner of the mouth on each side of the short, broad head.
The cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus of the family Felidae.