There are two types of cats in general: the wild and the domesticated. However, a Russian couple defied the odds after they fell in love with a puma a local zoo couldn’t any more support.
Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev met a puma named Messi at the Saransk Zoo in Penza he instantly won their hearts. The wild cat was eight years old then but he was suffering from health problems and the zoo was unable to fully support the medication.
The couple had to step up to save the animal so they pleaded to buy Messi from the zoo. Thankfully, they were given a one-in-a-million chance to have a wild puma as part of their family.
Messi was one of the puma cubs born at the zoo and named after famous soccer players to celebrate the Russian city hosting four of the matching from the World Cup. His siblings were named Suarez and Neymar.
According to Mariya, her husband has always dreamt of owning a large breed of feline. “He always thought about having a lynx – never a puma. It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny,” the 28-year-old stated via The Mirror.
“We had three days of thinking hard about whether it was moral to keep a puma, and whether it was common sense to have one. But nothing could fight our sudden wish,” Mariya continued.
“So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”
Of course, taking care of Messi isn’t similar to domesticating smaller cat breeds. It was challenging in many ways the couple could imagine but it was worth having the loving puma in their household.
Aside from needing medical support while Messi was ill when he came from the zoo, the puma also needed much care for being in an environment different from his breed’s original habitat.
‘‘He was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” said Mariya.
Messi’s humans helped him get a lot of exercise through regular walks; buying him a special harness and coat to take him out.
“He is like a dog. We started taking him for a walk, step by step. The animal hadn’t been really active before. 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,” Aleksandr stated via RT.
The couple also had to find a wild animal trainer to help Messi, but it was an unsuccessful pursuit. However, they were able to enrol him to a school for dogs and was doing a great job at learning things.
“He convinced us with his behaviour 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,” Aleksandr added.
Of course, a lot of animal activists insist that a wild cat like Messi belongs to a wildlife reserve or a sanctuary instead of a human home. Others are also pointing out the danger the couple is putting themselves in in living with a feral feline.
Despite this, the couple believes that Messi will not be able to survive in the wild given his history in the zoo. The cat has never lived with other wild animals before and the puma is used to his home with the Dmitrievs since he was a cub.
“He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat,” says Aleksandr.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/I Am Puma