The Cheetah

Which cat doesn't have retractable claws?

And the answer: cheetah.    

Photo credit: Shutterstock. 

The scientific name for the cheetah – Acinonyx – translates to "motionless claw." Known for their incredibly fast speeds, cheetahs have been clocked at running as fast as 71 mph (114 km/h). Having their claws out and available at all times helps them gain traction when they run.

As the world's fastest land animals, any amount of traction helps maintain their incredible speeds. These impressive cats can stride the length of an elephant in a single motion, and have evolved to overtake their prey with the element of surprise.

Interestingly, despite being a very large cat, cheetahs can't roar. Instead, these nimble creatures purr much like a house cat (though they're not quite as cuddly). They can also chirp quite loudly – the sound traveling distances up to a mile away – to keep in touch with their cubs and other pack members. The chirps vary from cheetah to cheetah, perhaps suggesting that their individuality allows each to recognize the other.

Cheetah's tails are also adapted to help them track and catch prey. The tail acts as a rudder, allowing them to change directions quickly during a chase. It can also act as a counterweight to keep it upright as they zig zag across the plains. During the daytime, cheetahs use the tall grasses to conceal themselves while they hunt, camouflaging themselves while creeping as close as they can to their prey.  

Learn more about this miraculous cats below.


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