Family of Cats.
The Cheetah is an animal that is prefectly built for speed.It has long,slender and powerful legs; a flexible spine; a collar bone that is greatly reduced in size and narrow almost vertical shoulder blades.All this arrangements lengthen the cheetahs stride and allow it to cover a great distance with each stride. It has narrow and hard padded paws with non retractable claws,(a feature unique among the big cats),gives the cheetah atraction and ability to turn quickly when remaining upright during the hunt.
Leopards have a relatively elongated body set up on a short, massive legs. The average size of a leopard is only the same size as the Puma or Cheetah but is imagined by people to be bigger due to its enormous power and ferocity. Melanistic or all black leopards occur quite frequently and tend to be found in areas of tropical forest where being a darker colour may be an advantage when hunting.Even these leopards are not completely black and in a proper crosslight the spots can still be seen.
The coloration of the lion depends greatly on it's geographical location with lions in desert regions being much lighter than lions that lives in the dense savannah. However a lions typical colour is tawny yellow.
Tigers stand around 42 inches at the shoulder which is roughly the same height as that attained by the African lion. However tigers are longer and stockier than lions. While lions struggle to top 250kg in the wild, male Siberian and Bengal tigers frequently reach this weight. There is, though, great variation in size depending on geographic location with the now extinct Bali and Javan tigers averaging only 100kg, compared to weights of over 330kg for the Siberian tiger. No matter which tiger sub species you look at, there is no denying that this is an immense animal by any standard.
In appearance the Jaguar is often confused with the Leopard - both cats, depending to a degree on sub-species have a similar brownish/yellow base fur colour which is distinctively marked with dark rosette markings. However, the jaguar can be distinguished by the presence of small dots or irregular shapes within the larger rosette markings, a more stocky and muscular body and a shorter tail. Melanistic or black jaguars (see below) are common in certain parts of its range and are often confusingly labelled Black Panthers, a name which is also applied to black Leopards. In this melanistic form the cats are more difficult to separate, however the jaguars large head and stocky forelimbs are often a good way to differentiate between the two cats.