Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev share a one-bedroom apartment with a Puma named Messi, they first spotted Messi at the Saransk Zoo in Penza when he was just 8-months-old and decided that they had to have him.The 90lb puma have a big name , MESSI one of the biggest names in soccer’s history. Messi was one of three cougar cubs born at the zoo. The other two, Suarez and Neymar, were also named after famous players to celebrate the Russian city hosting four matches of the World Cup.
Messi the puma suffered from health problems when he was three-months-old and was sold to the Saransk Zoo.Enamored with the sickly zoo animal the Dmitriev’s appealed to the owners and asked if they could buy him.
His wife Mariya, Aleksandr had always dreamed of owning 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.”
“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.”Puma the cat needed extra medical attention and care, “‘he was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” said Mariya.
“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.”
They found a dog training school he could attend and now responds to about 10 different commands.
“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.
“He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat,” says Aleksandr.
But the couple believes that he would not survive alongside other animals as he has never lived alone in the wild. “Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal,” Mariya told the Mirror.