Some people dream of owning a German Shepard or an African Grey, while other animal lovers dream of owning an exotic pet at some point in their lives. However, very few have been able to say that they are living that dream.
This is not the case for Aleksandr and Mariya Dmitriev, who are now the adoptive parents to a playful puma named Messi. While pumas cannot normally be domesticated, Messi is an exception to the rule and has been living with his new family in an apartment in Penza, Russia since 2016.
A little background on pumas
Animal experts have declared pumas, along with an array of other exotic feline species, as not capable of being domesticated. They say that these wild cats may grow accustomed to their owners and act in a docile demeanor but that they will never be domesticated like traditional house cats.
This is why Messi is so very special!
How Messi’s adventure began
Messi was born in the Saransk Zoo in Penza along with two siblings, Suarez and Neymar. However, Messi was significantly smaller than the other cubs because of the health problems he faced.
These health issues made it impossible for him to live in the zoo or any wildlife sanctuary. Unfortunately, pumas are not native to Russia, so releasing him into the wild was not an option either – especially since Messi has grown up in captivity and would not survive in the wild on his own.
Zoo owners were considering putting Messi to sleep at a lack of other options to consider. But, then Aleksandr and Mariya came along.
Mariya has always dreamed of being the owner of a large cat. When the couple saw Messi, it was love at first sight. And, upon hearing about Messi’s fate, they began considering adopting Messi as their own.
Although the Dmitrievs loved Messi, they were faced with an ethical dilemma: is it fair to keep a wild animal in a one-bedroom apartment? Messi was also very weak because of his health. This meant he would need a lot of attention to regain his health.
In the end, the Dmitrievs decided that Messi was well worth the effort and finalized the adoption.
Messi’s new life as a house cat
At first, the couple needed to make some major adjustments to accommodate their new pet. They renovated their hallway to create a special place just for Messi equipped with a climbing tree, hiding hole, and bamboo walls.
Messi loves taking baths in the bathtub, enjoys cuddles and naps with his owners in their bed, and loves snuggling up with his stuffed lobster.
He thrived in the environment and his health improved. However, even at a healthy 90-pounds, Messi is still two-thirds smaller than the average puma.
Messi loves attention and exercise just like a normal pet, which is why his new parents take him on walks. They take Messi for walks twice a day to keep him active.
Messi’s life as an honor roll student
The Dmitriev’s knew that looking after Messi would be a challenge. After much searching, they finally found a dog training school that would help them, and Messi now responds to ten different commands!
This precious puma enjoys human and animal contact and loves his sessions at the school.
Messi has become quite the celebrity
The puma parents share their adventures with Messi on social media because he is such a special puma and they want the world to know about him. Messi currently has 500,000 Instagram followers and over 170,000 subscribers to his YouTube account.
The Dmitrievs are now considering adopting a friend for Messi and have their eyes set on a leopard.
You can follow the antics and adventures of our favorite puma on his Instagram account at I_am_puma.
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