Is it Legal to Keep a Cheetah at Home?

‍Keeping exotic pets is a privilege, not a right. There are laws and regulations regarding which kinds of animals may be kept as pets, where and how they may be acquired, and what kind of care must be provided to ensure the animal’s well-being. These rules are in place for good reason, to protect both the safety and welfare of the animal, as well as the general public. Keeping a cheetah at home requires special permits from the state government agency that regulates keeping exotic pets. Cheetahs are listed as an endangered species in almost every state, only a few states permit keeping them privately if you have special permits. Even if your state allows keeping a cheetah at home, you will need to get a license before acquiring one. Below we’ll discuss whether it’s legal to keep a cheetah at home based on your location, what licensing requirements you need to meet, and any other tips you should know before bringing one home as a pet.

Why Is It Illegal to Keep a Cheetah at Home?

Many people buy exotic pets as impulse purchases, without understanding the difficulty of providing proper care for the animal. Most states prohibit keeping certain kinds of exotic animals as pets to protect both the animals and the general public. Cheetahs are listed as an endangered species, thus, it’s illegal to keep them as pets. Cheetahs are very difficult to care for. They are high-maintenance animals that are expensive to keep, require a special diet and housing, and may be dangerous to the public. It can cost thousands of dollars a year to keep one, and they may live over 15 years. They need a very large enclosure that is equipped with climbing apparatus, toys, and places to hide, as they are very high-energy animals. Cheetahs are also very high-maintenance in terms of feeding, needing very specific diets that must be supplemented with vitamins and minerals. They require a great deal of attention, are very destructive when bored, and are dangerous when neglected.

Can You Have a Pet Cheetah?

How to Legally Keep a Cheetah?

You must meet the requirements outlined by your state's wildlife department. Some states have strict regulations in place that make it difficult, if not impossible, to keep cheetahs privately. Other states allow cheetahs to be kept privately, but with special permits. In either case, it’s best to check with your state’s wildlife department before acquiring one. If your state permits you to keep a cheetah privately, you’ll need to get a permit. To do so, you’ll need to prove that you have the proper facilities to keep one safely and comfortably. Depending on the state, you may also need to provide proof that you have the experience and knowledge necessary to keep a cheetah.

State Laws Regarding Cheetahs

It’s important to understand the state laws regarding cheetahs before acquiring one. Cheetahs are listed as an endangered species in almost every state. The only states where cheetahs are not endangered are Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas. In the remaining states, cheetahs are either listed as threatened or special regulation applies. In other words, these states have laws and regulations in place that prohibit the pet trade of cheetahs. Some states, like Florida, also do not allow the import and possession of cheetahs as pets. Other states, like Michigan, permit the possession of cheetahs as pets, but only through a permit issued by the state’s department of natural resources. Some states, like California, have more lenient regulations in place that allow the private possession of cheetahs but require permits to do so.

Licensing Requirements for Exotic Pets

If your state allows you to keep cheetahs privately, you may need to obtain a license. In most states, you will need to obtain a special license to keep cheetahs. The amount of time this takes depends on the state, some license applications take a few days, while others take months or even years. The licensing fee may also vary depending on the state. In some states, the price of a license to keep cheetahs is very high, especially since cheetahs are listed as endangered or threatened. In other states, the fee is nominal.

Tips Before You Get a Cheetah

Before you get a cheetah as a pet, make sure you can afford to keep one for its expected lifespan, which can be upwards of 20 years. Cheetahs are very high-maintenance animals and will require constant care and attention throughout their lifetime. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on the animal, it will need a very large enclosure, special food, and regular veterinary care. Cheetahs are dangerous, so you’ll also need to be prepared and trained to handle one safely. And, of course, you should be willing to commit a lot of time to care for one. Be sure you’re ready for this commitment before you get a cheetah as a pet.