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Puma Rescued From A Contact-Type Zoo Can’t Be Released Into The Wild, Lives As A Spoiled House Cat
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Animals3 years ago

Puma Rescued From A Russian Zoo Spends Her Days As A House Cat

Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev share a one-bedroom apartment with one of the biggest names in soccer – Messi. No not the star himself, but his namesake – a 90lb puma. The Russian couple first spotted Messi at the Saransk Zoo in Penza when he was just eight-months-old and decided that they had to have him.

Image credits: l_am_puma

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. The wild cat was sold to the Saransk Zoo when he was three months old and suffered from health problems. Enamored with the sickly zoo animal the Dmitriev’s appealed to the owners and asked if they could buy him.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

According to his wife Mariya, Aleksandr, 38, 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.”

Image credits: l_am_puma

“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.”

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

Taking on the care of Messi was a challenge in many ways. Beyond being a wild animal, the cat needed extra medical attention and care, “‘he was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” said Mariya. Even though the couple has nursed the cub back to health, he is still only two-thirds of the size of the average puma.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Just like any other pet, Messi requires lots of exercise, which is why his human parents purchased a special coat and harness so they can take him 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.”

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

However, unlike a dog training, this lovable giant was not easy. The couple tried to find a wild animal handler but were not successful.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Finally, they found a dog training school he could attend and now responds to about 10 different commands.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

“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.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Having an exotic cat in your house is quite rare, so the Dmitrievs document life with their ‘housecat’ across social media – and people love it. While the real Messi has 100m Instagram followers, cat Messi still does pretty well with over 500k followers on his @I_am_puma account and over 170k subscribers on his YouTube account.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

Even though the couple only lives in a one-bedroom apartment they have done their best to accommodate their large companion. Such as converting their hallway into Messi’s den – complete with a tree, bamboo walls, and a hiding hole.

Image credits: l_am_puma

“He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat,” says Aleksandr.

Image credits: l_am_puma

As you can imagine some animal and environmental rights activists have objections to the Dmitrievs keeping an exotic animal in their home and believe Messi belongs on a wildlife reserve or in a sanctuary. While others note the danger of living with wild animal.

Image credits: l_am_puma

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.

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

Image credits: l_am_puma

Check out Messi playing with his favorite toys

Or learn how to wash a puma

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Corey Smith
Community Member
3 years ago

Can you imagine a burglar breaking into that apartment and coming across not a guard dog, but a guard puma?

Pinky Pop
Community Member
3 years ago

I can imagine a burglar shitting his pants..

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Arietis
Community Member
3 years ago

I'm torn between "how cute" and "how deadly".

Wietse Pot
Community Member
3 years ago

Adorifying

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hobbitly
Community Member
3 years ago

Probably an impopulair opinion, but I think this is wrong. Its a wild animal, it should not live indoors but go to a special sanctuary. I think its typical that some people think they can just buy anything they want and not look at what is best for the animal (declawing for example is extremely cruel). And by posting tons of photos and vids online, other people will see this as normal and some might even want this too. Not a good thing if you ask me.

Toe beans
Community Member
3 years ago

Yes, when my mom suggested we declaw our cat, I told her no. Yes, its dangerous for a puma to be in the house with claws, but if you have to declaw an animal in order to keep it, that just shows you probably shouldn’t have it. Cats are upsessed with their claws, its their pride and defense mechanism. Someone might ask “Why does a cat need claws if they aren’t going to live outside?”. Well, there are threats inside a home too;mice, bugs, children that are bothersome, and a cat loses some confidence when you take away their claws because they feel unsafe with out their natural weapons.

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Corey Smith
Community Member
3 years ago

Can you imagine a burglar breaking into that apartment and coming across not a guard dog, but a guard puma?

Pinky Pop
Community Member
3 years ago

I can imagine a burglar shitting his pants..

Load More Replies...
Arietis
Community Member
3 years ago

I'm torn between "how cute" and "how deadly".

Wietse Pot
Community Member
3 years ago

Adorifying

Load More Replies...
hobbitly
Community Member
3 years ago

Probably an impopulair opinion, but I think this is wrong. Its a wild animal, it should not live indoors but go to a special sanctuary. I think its typical that some people think they can just buy anything they want and not look at what is best for the animal (declawing for example is extremely cruel). And by posting tons of photos and vids online, other people will see this as normal and some might even want this too. Not a good thing if you ask me.

Toe beans
Community Member
3 years ago

Yes, when my mom suggested we declaw our cat, I told her no. Yes, its dangerous for a puma to be in the house with claws, but if you have to declaw an animal in order to keep it, that just shows you probably shouldn’t have it. Cats are upsessed with their claws, its their pride and defense mechanism. Someone might ask “Why does a cat need claws if they aren’t going to live outside?”. Well, there are threats inside a home too;mice, bugs, children that are bothersome, and a cat loses some confidence when you take away their claws because they feel unsafe with out their natural weapons.

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