Spot the Difference

Are Cheetahs Really Just Big Cats? Using the domestic cat as a model for the nutritional management of captive cheetahs

By K.M. Bell

The cheetah is an endangered species, threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat and conflict with humans for land use and prey animals. Although international efforts to save the cheetah include co-ordinated multi-national breeding programmes, the captive cheetah population is not yet self-sustaining. Understanding of cheetah biology has increased dramatically in recent decades but the domestic cat is still commonly used as a model species for the cheetah in captivity when it comes to nutrition and reproduction. However, is it really fair to extrapolate the nutritional requirements or reproductive anomolies of the domestic cat to its distant relative the cheetah? This book reviews the known differences and similarities in cheetah and cat biology, with particular reference to their nutritional and reproductive physiology. Where examples from either species are missing, comparison is made with other members of the Felidae in order to estimate the likelihood of interspecific differences between the cheetah and cat. The comparisons made here have particular relevance for the fomulation of diets for captive cheetahs and the development of zoo-based breeding programmes. Furthermore, this book provides zoo managers, breeding co-ordinators, veterinarians and nutritionists with a valuable tool when attempting to identify and correct nutritional inadequacies or reproductive dysfunction in the cheetah.

Publication Date: 12/1/2000
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781904761600