The cheetah is a wildcat that lives in the grasslands of Africa and a small portion of western Asia. Perhaps the most notable fact about this creature is its speed. Scientists have clocked it at running up to 70 miles per hour.
The cheetah's speed enables it to pursue fast-paced prey such as gazelles. At top speed, a cheetah's stride can cover 21 feet with the feet only hitting the ground twice. Although it can run at such a speed, it quickly tires out and can only pursue a chase for a short distance. Because of this, the animal must sneak up as close as possible to its prey, which is where its coat comes in. The color and spotted pattern of a cheetah enables it to effectively blend in to its grassland environment.
The cats's anatomy aids it in its fast-paced life. In addition to a slender build, the cheetah's tail acts like rudder to both steer it and prevent it from losing its balance during a high-speed pursuit. In addition, its feet have hard pads to aid in traction, as well as claws that grip the ground during a run and then are used to disembowel the prey .