The cheetah is the fastest of all land animals, capable of running at speeds up to 75 miles per hour (120 kph). Cheetahs have slim bodies, long legs, long tails, and high shoulders. A cheetah cannot retract its claws, so they are always out to grip the earth like spikes on a runner’s shoes. The cheetah’s broad chest holds a large heart and lungs. All these different features of a cheetah’s body work together to help it run. Clearly, cheetahs were born to run fast. However, cheetahs can only maintain their top speed for a distance of about 1600 feet (500 meters), and in fact often fail to catch their prey.