Some years ago a Greek vase that the University Museum had lent to Bryn Mawr
College aroused my curiosity about cheetahs in antiquity, starting me on a long
trail of Classical cats.
Such is the opening sentence of Ann Ashmead's article "GREEK CATS: Exotic pets kept by rich youths in fifth century B.C. Athens, as portrayed on Greek vases" (Expedition Magazine Vol 2, No. 3, Spring 1978). Long story short, I may have brought you a bit of a project today if you feel like downloading the PDF and scanning the scholarly article. The text mostly says in essence "Rich fashionable young Greek men could acquire a cheetah or a leopard if they wanted to, apparently." If you have ever wished you could have a mighty cool Acinonyx jubatus -- that's cheetah to you and me -- then you might well enjoy, not least for the great photos taken from ceramics of the time. (I recommend Illustration 8, a kylix by the Cat and Dog Painter, and 6, a cheetah whose spots are made in loopy whorls.)
Give the article a try.