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How Much Does a Cheetah Cost?

Last Updated on January 30, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Purchasing a cheetah cub or adult cheetah for a pet is a complex process filled with legal, ethical, and financial considerations. While their sleek spotted coats and incredible speed may seem appealing, ensuring proper care for these endangered wild animals requires extensive commitments.


  • Cheetahs cost $5,000-$25,000 depending on age, source, and other factors
  • Legal restrictions and ethical implications limit exotic pet ownership
  • Initial purchase and ongoing care require extensive financial commitment
  • Proper enclosures, nutrition, and veterinary needs are complex and expensive
  • Conservation through zoos and reserves is better than captivity as pets
  • Cheetahs present safety risks and require expertise as predatory animals
  • Domestic cats offer less dangerous alternatives for cheetah-like companions

How Much Does a Cheetah Cost?

Cheetah cubs typically cost between $5,000-$8,000. Adult cheetahs usually run $15,000-$25,000. Cost depends on the animal’s age, sex, temperament, lineage, and seller.

According to Bloomberg, the cost of a cheetah can vary significantly, and in some cases, the value of a cheetah cub can reach as high as $50,000 on the black market. The legal and ethical considerations of purchasing a cheetah should be carefully evaluated.

Conservation centers and accredited zoos sometimes sell captive-bred cheetahs, but charge more since funds go toward species protection programs. Illegal wildlife traders offer lower prices but fuel detrimental poaching and habitat loss.

Buying cheetahs on the black market poses risks as sellers smuggle wild-caught cheetahs with unknown health and behavior. Legal acquisition requires permits and licensing that add expenses.

Raising a cub has extra costs for supplies, veterinary care, and diet changes until adulthood. Adult cheetahs ready for transfer cost more but skip the delicate cub rearing stage.

Gender matters too – male cheetahs are often less expensive than females due to aggression issues. A hand-raised, healthy, captive-bred cheetah from a reputable seller reaches the highest pricing but provides the best temperament for captivity.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Purchasing any exotic cat like a cheetah raises legal and ethical issues. Cheetahs rank as a vulnerable species nearing endangered status due to habitat loss, conflict with livestock farmers, illegal captivity, and declining wild populations. Removing cheetahs from the wild damages fragile ecosystems and species survival.

Owning a cheetah is illegal in most U.S. states, requiring permits and licenses where allowed. Even if legal ownership is possible, the ethics of confining cheetahs to artificial enclosures remain questionable.

Conservation education, licensed captive breeding, and animal ambassador programs offer alternatives to owning cheetahs as pets. Supporting accredited zoos and wildlife reserves also aids cheetah protection and study efforts.

Initial Costs and Ongoing Care

Buying a cheetah is only the beginning – responsible owners must also fund lifetime care. Initial purchases like outdoor housing, fencing, toys, bedding, and transport crates add thousands in start-up costs. Monthly expenses for food, enrichment, utilities, accessories, and unforeseen veterinary needs can easily exceed $1,500.

Annual costs for a pet cheetah approach $20,000 or higher. Cubs incur more frequent veterinary visits and formula/diet changes initially. Cheetahs live 10-12 years on average, meaning a long-term commitment to expenses.

Owners should prepare for costs consistently exceeding a decade. Budgeting adequately ensures ability to meet the cheetah’s needs throughout its life.

Habitat and Enclosure Requirements

As the world’s fastest land mammal, cheetahs need ample space to run and engage their natural instincts. Minimum enclosure size recommendations start at half an acre and expand based on cheetah group size.

Double fencing with both inner and perimeter walls prevents escapes. While custom-building large enclosures is ideal, converting existing barns or outbuildings can control habitat costs.

Construction expenses for cheetah housing run $15,000-$30,000 on average. Perimeter fencing generally costs $20-$30 per linear foot with at least 6-foot height.

Proper housing has elevated resting platforms, hide boxes, climbing enrichments, and water access. Enclosure furnishings add several thousand dollars as well. Housing must keep cheetahs safely contained and mentally stimulated.

Healthcare and Veterinary Needs

Adult CheetahAlthough domesticated cats share similarities, cheetahs have unique veterinary and healthcare requirements.

Annual check-ups, standard vaccinations, and lab work cost $2,000 per cheetah on average. Adding a veterinary clinic comfortable handling non-domestic felines may increase expenses.

Cubs need frequent supervision by a veterinarian to hit growth milestones and appropriate diet/supplement adjustments. Geriatric cheetahs undergo health monitoring and care for age-related conditions.

Did you read our articles about the cost of exotic animals like lion cubs, baby cheetahs, or tiger cubs?

Injuries, illnesses, and emergencies also spur veterinary costs. Pet insurance averages $5000 annually for exotic cats but helps cover unpredictable expenses.

Feeding and Nutrition

In the wild, cheetahs subsist on small antelope, gazelles, hares, birds, and other prey. Replicating their diverse nutrition in captivity has challenges. Providing whole carcasses or raw meat diet plans costs $2,000-$5,000 annually per cheetah.

Formulating balanced rations with organ meats, bones, and supplements adds complexity and price.

Cubs under 3 months old need specialized formula costing $200+ monthly. As they mature, introducing chopped meats, bone broth, and weaning onto adult diets follows under veterinary guidance.

Adults eat 2-3 pounds of food daily. Freezing bulk meats saves costs but requires ample storage space. Pursuing safe, nutritious feeding is essential for captive cheetah health.

Conservation and Wildlife Protection

While captive cheetahs face extinction risk, the crisis escalates for their endangered wild counterparts. With less than 7,000 cheetahs left in Africa, human intervention is crucial.

However, unnecessary captivity for big cat pets undermines conservation. Supporting reputable zoos, advocacy groups, and natural reserves gives cheetahs better futures.

Ecotourism also channels money toward protecting cheetahs in their natural habitats. Donating to organizations like the Cheetah Conservation Fund fights trafficking through community education, lobbying, and promoting coexistence with local farmers. Preserving wild cheetah populations eclipses owning one as a pet.

Risks and Challenges

Despite their athleticism and beauty, cheetahs make challenging pets. Their stubborn independence resists training or domestication. Stress-related medical conditions arise frequently in captivity, including gastritis, kidney failure, and heart problems.

Handling risks also exist – cheetahs are still powerful predators. Their aloofness and hunting instincts persist even if raised by humans. Cheetah aggression or escapes endanger owners, neighbors, livestock, or pets.

Local authorities may forcibly remove or euthanize cheetahs deemed threats. Few homes provide the expertise, facilities, and lifelong diligence needed to keep cheetahs safely.

Final Words

Cheetahs command awe as the world’s fastest land mammal. However, passion for their abilities and appearance cannot override welfare for these vulnerable wild animals.

The complexities and costs of providing lifetime care make cheetahs challenging companions. Conservation through responsible zoos and reserves – not private ownership – offers the best avenue for preserving cheetahs.

For those seeking unique pets, many domestic cat breeds retain exotic cheetah-like markings without such intensive demands or detriment to the species. While stunning creatures, the best place for cheetahs to thrive remains the wild savannahs and grasslands of Africa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you buy a pet cheetah?

Purchasing a pet cheetah is extremely challenging and inadvisable. Cheetahs are considered exotic cats, making private ownership illegal in most U.S. states without permits that are difficult to obtain.

Captive cheetahs also require specialized care that only zoos, reserves, or experts can provide long-term. Removing cheetahs from the wild is unethical and damages vulnerable populations. While cheetahs seem like exciting pets, supporting them through conservation programs instead of captivity is the responsible choice.

Can cheetahs be good pets?

Cheetahs generally make poor pets for private owners despite their appeal. They are not domesticated and retain wild instincts and aggression, especially toward unfamiliar animals or people.

Even friendly cheetahs can inflict serious injury through hunting reflexes and razor-sharp claws. As sprinters built for open terrain, confining cheetahs leads to chronic health issues and stress.

Very few individuals outside of zoos or reserves can accommodate cheetahs’ extensive space, diet, enrichment and veterinary needs. For cheetahs to thrive, they require wild habitats, not life as a pet in captivity.

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