Puma Rescued From Russian Zoo Now Living The Good Life As Spoiled House Kitty

A Russian couple recently adopted a beautiful 90-pound puma named Messi (after the famous Soccer player) after first spotting the big cat at the Saransk Zoo in Penza, Russia. At the time, the cat was only eight months old, and the couple just knew right then and there that they wanted to bring him home. Of course, it’s rarely a good idea for folks to just adopt wild animals such as Pumas, as these creatures are usually better off in their natural environment, which is the wild. However, in Messi’s case, he was born in another zoo as one of three puma cubs. His siblings, Neymar and Suarez, were also similarly named after popular soccer players in celebration of Penza hosting four matches of the FIFA World Cup.

At three months old, Mesi was sold to the Saransk Zoo. However, he also had developed severe health issues. The couple was in love with the sick little puma cub, and so, the Dmitriev’s asked the owners if they could purchase him, and they agreed. Of course, taking care of a big cat like Messi is not like owning a typical house cat. Plus, beyond the fact that he was a wild animal, there was also his medical issues to consider. The cat was not in the best condition when the couple took him in and required a lot of care and attention.

“He was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” said Mariya.

The couple says that they always dreamed of someday adopting a big cat.

“He always thought about having a lynx – never a puma. It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma as a house cat is part of our destiny.”

Of course, they also grappled with the moral implications of taking such an animal out of the wild.

“We had three days of thinking hard about whether it was moral to keep such an exotic pet, and whether it was common sense to have one. But nothing could fight our sudden wish,” Mariya, 28, told the Mirror. “So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”

Messi, in many ways, is just like any other pet. He requires lots of regular exercise, which is one of the reasons why his parents bought him a unique coat and harness that allows them to take him out on walks.

“He is like a dog. We started taking him for a walk, step by step. The animal hadn’t been really active before.” Aleksandr said in an interview with RT, “Now we walk a lot twice a day, as it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t differ much from owning a dog in this sense.”

That said, unlike the training dogs undergo, teaching this lovable giant feline was considerably more challenging. The couple searched for a wild animal trainer, but they were unsuccessful.

“He convinced us with his behavior that he’s a full member of our family and that he wouldn’t be doing anything bad apart from some small naughty things. He’s very kind and likes contact. He gets on very well with people,” says Aleksandr.

It’s quite unusual for folks to adopt an exotic cat, especially people who live in a one-bedroom apartment such as the Dmitrievs. So they decided to create a social media account documenting their life with their extra-large “housecat.” And folks across the internet love Messi. In fact, the soccer player has over 100 million Instagram followers; our lovable cat has a respectable  500,000 followers on his  @I_am_puma account along with 170,000 subscribers watching his antics on his YouTube channel.

And while the couple may only live in a small one-bedroom apartment, they’ve done their very best to make their large fur baby as comfortable as can be. They’ve done things like converting their hallway into Messi’s private den, which includes bamboo walls, a tree, and a hole to hide in.

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Of course, there are a few animal rights activists who object to the Dmitrievs adopting and housing an exotic animal in their apartment, believing that the big cat would be better served in a sanctuary or wildlife reserve. And other folks bring up the inherent dangers of trying to domesticate a wild animal.

“Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal,” Mariya told the Mirror.

We honestly wish this couple the best. However, they should not be naive when it comes to the dangers of owning large cats like pumas. The world-famous Las Vegas magic act known as Siegfried and Roy owned large cats that they thought of family for many years before tragedy struck in 2003. That’s when Roy Horn suffered a near-fatal attack by one of their tigers on stage in front of a live audience.

We would urge anyone who considers owning a large cat to carefully consider what’s in the best interest of the cat and their own personal safety.

Here are a few videos of Messi getting a bath.

Here’s part 2.

And finally part 3.

Source: Bored Panda