There is an excellent B&H video on YouTube instructed by Charles Glatzer called How To Correctly Expose and Post Snow scenes. (This: https://youtu.be/mvT9TlurUy8 - Linda)
In this video he talks about how to expose for white animals as well. The video is almost 2 hours long but very informative and he is a very entertaining speaker. I think you will find the answers you are looking for in this video. He has several other videos as well that are equally as informative and entertaining.
Best wishes in your journey to find that perfect exposure
I have a Honda Goldwing. My camera bag rides in the top case and my 150-600 lens, laptop and tripod go into one saddle bag. Never had an issue. The camera bag is well padded and the computer and long lens (also in padded bags) usually sit on something like a jacket or something else along that line. The heat from the tailpipe is what concerns me there.
I wouldn't put your camera on the luggage rack or backseat. One trip to the restroom and it could be gone. I'd rather they steal my bag of clothes (there's always a Wal-Mart around somewhere that I can buy replacements) and that is what rides in the passenger seat. Knock on wood...no one has ever taken anything but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
If you Google Cheetah laying next to photographer you find out that this is a tame cat that is in a game preserve. Her name is Mtombi. You will even see photos of her looking at the back of the camera and another of the photographer petting her.
Sorry to be a spoiler. It's a nice idea that a truly wild Cheetah would just lay down next to a person and just enjoy the company.