The main body parts of a cheetah are the distinct spotted coat, dark curved lines extending from the inner corners of their eyes to the outside of their nose, and their slender bodies. When compared to the true big cats, the cheetah has a smaller head and ears. It has long legs and a long tail, which acts as a rudder during bursts of speed.
The cheetah is considerably smaller than any member of the big cats category, which includes the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard, in order of size. The cheetah's slender build is maximized for reaching tremendous speeds. Capable of reaching 70 mph, it is the fastest land animal on Earth. These high speeds are possible, in part, because of the cheetah's long legs.
In addition to its speed, the cheetah has excellent balance while traveling at the high speeds necessary to catch its quick prey. The long tail enables the cat to anticipate and match escape attempts by its prey, so that the cheetah is rarely thrown off-course by rapid changes in direction. All of its body parts, especially the slender build, long legs and tail, work together to enable the cheetah to catch more agile prey.