Cheetahs are commanding creatures, especially given their capacity to run at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. This carnivorous mammal with striking black spots is well-known for its superb hunting and stalking ability, making it a dangerous predator in the wild. However, unlike the other large cats with which it is sometimes associated—leopards, jaguars, tigers, and lions—cheetahs do not express themselves with ferocious roars.
So, how do cheetahs sound? They meow and purr like a normal housecat. Even though cheetahs may weigh up to 159 pounds, their structure is similar to that of a tiny cat. Their voice box is fixed, with vibrating vocal chords as they breathe in and out. This allows them to purr but takes away their roaring ability.
Leopards, jaguars, tigers, and lions, on the other hand, are all members of the Pantherinae subfamily. Their laryngeal anatomy, which comprises massive muscles and a lengthy vocal fold, allows them to roar. They have a ligament that contributes to the deep and powerful vocalisations that have been known to paralyse other animals, rather than a fixed voice box.
Cheetahs are members of the Felinae subfamily of tiny cats, which share a vocal structure. This subfamily also includes the Eurasian lynx, bobcat, and cougar, as well as typical domestic cats. All of this merely goes to show that the adage “its bark is worse than its bite” does not necessarily apply to cats.