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Panther vs. Cheetah: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 7, 2023
Panthers are large, powerful, and typically black big cats, while cheetahs are slender, fast, and spotted felines.

Key Differences

Panthers, a term often used to describe melanistic leopards or jaguars, are characterized by their solid black coat. Cheetahs, on the other hand, are distinct for their slender build and spotted coat, which aids in camouflage.
Cheetahs are renowned for being the fastest land animals, capable of speeds up to 75 mph in short bursts. Panthers, although strong and agile, are not built for such speed but excel in stealth and power.
Panthers are adaptable to various habitats and are found in parts of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Cheetahs are predominantly found in Africa and parts of Iran, preferring open savannas and grasslands.
Panthers are opportunistic predators that hunt a wide range of prey, often utilizing their strength and stealth. Cheetahs rely on their speed to hunt, primarily targeting smaller antelopes and birds.
Both face threats from habitat loss and human activities. However, cheetahs are particularly vulnerable due to their specialized habitat and genetic diversity, making their conservation status more critical.

Comparison Chart

Coat Appearance

Typically black, due to melanism
Spotted, tan-colored


Strong and agile, not built for speed
Fastest land animal, up to 75 mph


Varied, including jungles and forests
Open savannas and grasslands

Hunting Style

Stealth and strength in hunting
High-speed chases for prey


Threatened by habitat loss, poaching
Vulnerable, facing habitat loss

Panther and Cheetah Definitions


In mythology, a panther is often a symbol of power, aggression, and mystery.
The warrior's emblem, a panther, represented his fierce and mysterious nature.


A cheetah is a large, spotted feline known for its incredible speed.
The cheetah sprinted across the savanna, swiftly catching up to its prey.


A panther can refer to any member of the Panthera genus, including lions and tigers.
At the zoo, the children were excited to see the panther exhibit, which included lions.


In sports, a cheetah often symbolizes speed and agility.
The athlete was nicknamed 'The Cheetah' for his quick reflexes on the field.


A panther is a big cat that is typically black, often a melanistic leopard or jaguar.
The panther moved silently through the jungle, unseen in the dark.


A cheetah also refers to someone who achieves their goals quickly and efficiently.
In the corporate world, she was known as a cheetah, always reaching targets ahead of time.


A panther can also symbolize a stealthy, cunning, and solitary individual.
In the novel, the detective was likened to a panther, always one step ahead of his prey.


A cheetah is characterized by its slender build and distinctive tear-streak markings.
The cheetah's tear-streaks were visible as it rested under the acacia tree.


In popular culture, 'panther' is often used to describe a sleek, powerful, and elegant individual.
The spy in the movie was described as a panther, swift and deadly.


In cultural symbolism, a cheetah can represent swiftness and insight.
The emblem of the racing team featured a cheetah, embodying their fast and strategic approach.


A large wild cat such as a leopard or jaguar, especially in a color form with black fur.


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.


See cougar.


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


Can panthers climb trees?

Yes, particularly if they are leopards, they are excellent climbers.

What is a panther?

A panther is often a melanistic leopard or jaguar, known for its black coat.

What is the top speed of a cheetah?

A cheetah can reach speeds up to 75 mph.

Are panthers a distinct species?

No, 'panther' is a general term and not a distinct species.

Are cheetahs good climbers?

No, cheetahs are not built for climbing like some other big cats.

Do panthers live in groups?

Panthers are typically solitary, except during mating or mothering.

Are cheetahs endangered?

Yes, cheetahs are classified as vulnerable, facing threats like habitat loss.

What is the primary habitat of a cheetah?

Cheetahs primarily inhabit open savannas and grasslands.

What differentiates a panther's hunting style from a cheetah's?

Panthers rely on stealth and strength, while cheetahs rely on speed.

What is the conservation status of panthers?

Panthers are generally considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and poaching.

How do panthers communicate?

Panthers communicate through vocalizations, scent markings, and body language.

How do cheetahs hunt?

Cheetahs hunt by sprinting at high speeds to catch their prey.

What do panthers eat?

Panthers, depending on their species, eat a variety of prey, from deer to fish.

Can cheetahs roar like other big cats?

No, cheetahs cannot roar; they make different vocalizations like purring.

What challenges do cheetahs face in the wild?

Cheetahs face challenges like habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and genetic diversity issues.

What is the lifespan of a cheetah in the wild?

Cheetahs live for about 10-12 years in the wild.

Are panthers good swimmers?

Yes, particularly if they are jaguars, they are quite adept at swimming.

What is the role of a panther in its ecosystem?

As apex predators, they help control prey populations and maintain balance.

How long can a cheetah maintain its top speed?

Only for short bursts, typically less than a minute.

Do cheetahs have any natural predators?

Yes, cheetah cubs are at risk from predators like lions and hyenas.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
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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