Cheetahs are a light tan color, and their coats are characterized by their all-over black spots. It is this spotted coat and the cheetah's smaller size, including its small ears and head and its tear-shaped stripes that run all the way from the cheetah's eye to the side of its nose, that distinguish it from the other cats in the big cat family.
Cheetah cubs are a smoky color, and their hair is long and woolly. The cubs' hair is known as a mantle, and it runs down their backs. The mantle works to camouflage the cubs in tall grasses, a feature that keeps them safer from predators.