How Do Cheetahs Reproduce?

cheetahs-reproduce Credit: mariusz kluzniak/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Female cheetahs are polyestrous, meaning they ovulate several times per year, according to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center. The cheetah's estrous cycle, similar to menstruation in humans, is 12 days long, with ovulation occurring on the second to third day of the cycle. Cheetahs breed through sexual intercourse and have a 90 to 95 day gestation period once impregnated.

Litter sizes for cheetahs range from three to five cubs at a time, according to Big Cat Rescue. Once the cubs are born, the male cheetah has no participation in rearing the cubs and the mother is often gone for stretches as long as 48 hours in hunt for food.

If food is scarce, a female cheetah often abandons her cubs in search of food and to maintain her way of life, according to Big Cat Rescue. If her litter is lost, the female comes back into her estrous cycle in a matter of days and the breeding cycle begins again.

According to Big Cat Rescue, while cheetahs are considered the most reproductive cat, they are also highly endangered due to lack of genetic diversity, and falling prey to predators higher up on the food chain such as lions, hyenas, birds of prey and jackals.