Can you ‘spot’ the difference between a leopard and a cheetah?


Many tend to get confused between the leopard and the cheetah. We thought we would explain the difference between the two cats to make identifying them on your next bush trip a little easier.

1. Coat pattern

Cheetah’s coat markings consist of solid black spots. Leopards, on the other hand, have more of a cluster of black spots with a dark brown spot in the middle. These collections of spots are called rosettes.

cheetah-cub_8-monthsCheetah coat

2. Facial Structure
The cheetah has a rounder face, with dark ‘tear marks’ running down from the inside of the eye to the corners of the mouth. The leopard has a broader face.
3. Claws
The cheetah has non-retractable claws, meaning they are extended all the time (it is, in fact, the only cat that has non-retractable claws). Leopards have retractable claws, which are extended when climbing trees or catching prey.

Leopard-coatLeopard coat

4. Body Structure

Cheetahs are built for speed, so their bodies are very slender, with long legs. The leopard is built for strength, so it is very solid and stocky with shorter legs.

5. Hunting Behavior
The cheetah is diurnal, meaning it is more active during the day. The leopard is nocturnal, meaning it is more active at night.


6. Bionomial & Scientific Names

Cheetah:Acinonyx Jubatus

Leopard: Panthera Pardus