What Sound Does a Cheetah Make?

The cheetah is well known as the fastest land animal in the world but what many don’t know is what sound does a cheetah make.

Cheetahs make multiple sounds depending on the situation they are in. For example, cheetahs will growl, purr, yelp, or chirp, given their circumstances. Also, contrary to what one may think, cheetahs cannot roar.

Cheetahs are fascinating animals that have many interesting characteristics. This article will cover the many sounds a cheetah makes and when they make them. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating animal.

What sounds do cheetahs make?

Like many animals, cheetahs have different sounds depending on whether they are content, scared, or looking for a mate. While it would be convenient to say cheetahs made only one sound, these wild cats have many sounds coming from within.

So let’s look at the sounds you’ll hear from a cheetah and why they make them.

Cheetah making a sound while lying down in a field with another cheetah laying next to them

Mother cheetahs chirp when with their young  

Mother cheetahs and their young are quite the pair, and female cheetahs usually only surround themselves with other cheetahs if they are babies. 

A mother cheetah chirps, much like a bird, when she is with her young, and her babies reciprocate the sound and usually use it when trying to find each other or playing together. 

A baby cub will also chirp if they sense danger and alert its mother. While it sounds like a cute sound, even young cheetahs need to make sounds to protect themselves.

This YouTube video is full of adorable chirping cheetahs.

Chirping baby cheetahs

Male cheetahs stutter when mating 

Male cheetahs make a unique stuttering sound when looking for a mate. The unique sound is almost like a combination of a rumbling stomach and purring, and you might hear it called a stutter bark.

There is no set time of year for mating, and breeding occurs throughout the year.

Female cheetahs are fully matured by 1.5 years old, so it doesn’t take long for cheetahs to begin mating. However, some circumstances, like extreme inclement weather, can affect how much breeding occurs in a year. 

This YouTube video shows a cheetah stutter-barking.

Cheetah Stutter-Barks at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Cheetahs moan, hiss, and growl when threatened

If a cheetah senses a predator, it will let out a moaning sound followed by hissing. Usually, cheetahs crouch as they feel threatened and begin making unique sounds. 

Cheetah growling

Cheetahs aren’t typically dangerous, but if the threat continues, cheetahs will display their canines and start growling at their predator. In addition, a cheetah may spit as the predator gets closer and will yelp loud enough for anyone within a mile to hear. 

Watch this YouTube video to see the multiple sounds cheetahs make if threatened.

wild cheetahs agonistic sounds growling moaning hissing spitting

Cheetahs meow and purr like domestic cats

If you have a cat, you know what sweet meowing and purring sounds they make. Like your pet, cheetahs meow and purr, but you shouldn’t cuddle up with them as you do with your cat.

Cats and cheetahs have the same voice box, so they can meow as much as they’d like.

Cheetahs purr to express content, and you often hear the sound between a mother and her cubs. The lovely vibration sound means the cheetah is calm, content, and relaxed. 

While you should never go out of your way to pet a cheetah, this YouTube video shows how the beautiful animal purrs like a cat.

Cheetah Purring - A Cute Big Cat Videos Compilation

Do cheetahs roar?

With all the sounds cheetahs make, you might be surprised to hear they don’t roar. While some wild cats use their roar to mark their territory, cheetahs use their urine.

However, cheetahs aren’t as dominant over territory as lions or tigers, so their urine does the job.

It’s interesting to note that cheetahs are the only wild cat, along with snow leopard, that doesn’t roar due to the bones in their voice box, which is why they are similar to house cats.

A cheetah’s vocal cords vibrate when they breathe in and out, causing purring.

So, only big cats can roar because their voice box is different from a cheetah, and they can stretch it further.

Lions, tigers, and leopards have larger muscles in their larynx and a more extended vocal fold, allowing them to make a mighty roar.

Cheetahs communicate through behavior

While cheetahs have plenty of sounds to communicate, they also do a lot through their behavior with other cheetahs, including nuzzling, sniffing, cheek rubbing, and licking.

Cheetahs are exciting creatures because they are happy living with close relatives, but they are content living in solitary life and only seek out other cheetahs to mate with.

In addition, most females are solitary unless they have young with them.

Final thoughts on cheetah sounds

So, what sound does a cheetah make? Well, now you know there are multiple answers to this question.

Depending on their situation, cheetahs will meow, purr, yelp, chirp, moan, hiss, and growl to show their emotions.

What you won’t hear is a cheetah roar, though; that’s left for other big cats.

Cheetah hissing

FAQs

Can cheetahs roar?

No, cheetahs cannot roar like lions, tigers, and other big cats.
This has caused some scientists to argue that they aren’t “big cats,” as roaring should be a defining characteristic.
Most conservationists, however, tend to agree that the cheetah is a big cat, even if they can’t roar and are timider compared to their louder relatives.

How do cheetahs mark their territory?

Cheetahs will urinate to mark their territory, but they also use scat and rub their bodies against a spot to tell other animals that it’s their turf.
For example, a cheetah may rub their cheek or body against a tree to leave its mark. 
While most cheetahs range hundreds of miles from home, breeding males ensure they defend their territory and won’t stray far.
Male cheetahs will harm other males if they attempt to cross their paths. 

Are cheetahs the smartest wild cats?

Cheetahs are exceptionally smart but don’t hold the title of most intelligent cat; that award goes to lions. The intelligence of a lion is impressive as it can solve puzzles, perform mental tasks, and have a fantastic memory.
While lions reign supreme in the intelligence category, we shouldn’t discount cheetahs. Cheetahs can predict their prey’s movements and are cautious about attacking when they are near to catching the animal.
In addition, cheetahs don’t take chances near predators and are more cautious than other wild animals.