Top: King cheetah. Note the distinctive coat pattern. Bottom: Cheetah (left) vs King cheetah.
King cheetah is actually an African Cheetah exhibiting a rare fur pattern mutation. A recessive gene must be inherited from both parents in order for this “blotchy” pattern to appear. Hence, genetically the king cheetah is simply a variety of the common cheetah and not a separate species. This case is similar to that of the black panthers. The appearance is caused by reinforcement of a recessive allele. As a result, if two mating cheetahs carry the mutated allele, then a quarter of their offspring can be expected to be king cheetahs.
This rare mutation causes cream-colored fur marked with large, blotchy spots and three dark, wide stripes extending from their neck to the tail.