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Lion vs. Cheetah: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 21, 2024
Lions are large, social cats known for their mane and pride structure, whereas cheetahs are slender, solitary cats renowned for their exceptional speed.

Key Differences

Lions are robust and muscular with a distinctive mane in males, symbolizing strength and dominance. Cheetahs are notably slimmer and more agile, with a streamlined body built for speed.
Lions are unique among big cats for their social structure, living in groups called prides. In contrast, cheetahs are predominantly solitary animals, especially males, except when females are raising cubs.
Lions often hunt in coordinated groups, using their strength and strategy to take down larger prey. Cheetahs rely on their exceptional speed, being the fastest land animals, to chase down prey over short distances.
Lions are adaptable to various habitats but primarily reside in savannas and grasslands. Cheetahs, while also found in these areas, require vast open spaces to utilize their speed for hunting.
Both species face threats from habitat loss and human activities, but cheetahs are more vulnerable due to their lower population numbers and specific habitat requirements.

Comparison Chart

Physical Build

Robust and muscular, with a mane in males
Slender and agile, built for speed

Social Structure

Lives in prides (social groups)
Mostly solitary, except when raising cubs

Hunting Strategy

Group hunters, rely on strength and strategy
Solitary hunters, rely on speed

Preferred Habitat

Savannas and grasslands
Open spaces for high-speed chases

Conservation Status

Threatened, varies by region
Vulnerable, due to specific habitat needs

Lion and Cheetah Definitions


A symbol of strength and bravery in various cultures.
The lion statue stood majestically at the city gate.


A solitary big cat, Acinonyx jubatus, known for its speed and agility.
The cheetah used its acute eyesight to spot prey from a distance.


A carnivorous feline, Panthera leo, native to Africa and parts of Asia.
Lions in the Serengeti are a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts.


The fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds up to 75 mph.
The cheetah sprinted across the savanna, swiftly catching its prey.


A large, muscular cat known for its mane and social pride structure.
The lion roared loudly, asserting its dominance over the pride.


A vulnerable species, facing threats from habitat loss and poaching.
Conservation efforts are crucial to protect the cheetah's declining population.


The male lion is recognized by its distinctive mane.
A male lion's mane becomes darker and fuller as it ages.


A cheetah's coat is characterized by distinct black spots on a tan background.
The cheetah's spots help camouflage it in the grassy terrain.


A member of the big cat family, known for its powerful build.
The lioness skillfully led the hunt to feed her cubs.


A slender, spotted cat adapted for high-speed pursuits.
The cheetah's streamlined body is perfect for explosive bursts of speed.


A large carnivorous feline mammal (Panthera leo) of Africa and northwest India, having a short tawny coat, a tufted tail, and, in the male, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders.


A long-legged, swift-running wild cat (Acinonyx jubatus) of Africa and southwest Asia, having tawny, black-spotted fur and nonretractile claws. The cheetah, the fastest animal on land, can run for short distances at about 96 kilometers (60 miles) per hour.


A mountain lion.


A distinctive member (Acinonyx jubatus) of the cat family, slightly smaller than the leopard, but with proportionately longer limbs and a smaller head; native to Africa and southeast Asia (where it is nearly extinct) and also credited with being the fastest terrestrial animal.


A species of leopard (Cynælurus jubatus) tamed and used for hunting in India. The woolly cheetah of South Africa is Cynælurus laneus. It runs very fast in short spurts while hunting.


Long-legged spotted cat of Africa and southwestern Asia having nonretractile claws; the swiftest mammal; can be trained to run down game


What do lions eat?

Lions are carnivores and typically hunt large prey like wildebeest.

Do cheetahs live in groups?

Cheetahs are mostly solitary, except when females raise cubs.

Are lions endangered?

Lions are classified as vulnerable, with declining populations in some areas.

Do male lions participate in hunting?

Male lions sometimes hunt, but lionesses do most of the hunting.

What is a cheetah?

The fastest land animal, known for its speed and agility.

Can lions run as fast as cheetahs?

No, lions are powerful but not as fast as cheetahs.

How fast can a cheetah run?

A cheetah can reach speeds up to 75 mph in short bursts.

What are the main threats to cheetahs?

Habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching are major threats to cheetahs.

Can cheetahs climb trees?

Cheetahs are not skilled climbers like some other big cats.

What is a lion?

A large cat known for its strength, mane, and social structure in prides.

Do lions have natural predators?

Adult lions have few natural predators but face threats from humans and other lions.

Can lions swim?

Lions can swim, but they do not do it often.

How long do lions live?

Lions typically live around 10-14 years in the wild.

How do cheetahs hunt?

Cheetahs use their speed to chase down and catch their prey.

Are cheetahs active at night?

Cheetahs are mainly diurnal, preferring to hunt in the early morning or late afternoon.

What is the lifespan of a cheetah in the wild?

Cheetahs live about 10-12 years in the wild.

How do lions communicate?

Lions communicate through vocalizations, scent marking, and body language.

What is the social structure of a lion pride?

A pride consists of related females, their cubs, and a few adult males.

What habitat do cheetahs prefer?

Cheetahs prefer open savannas and grasslands where they can utilize their speed.

How many cubs can a cheetah have?

A cheetah can have a litter of up to six cubs.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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