What’s the difference between a puma and a housecat? About one hundred forty pounds! Plus, Pumas have the whole really sharp teeth and claws thing going on. But don’t tell that to Messi. He’s a puma who’s decided he’s a housecat!
But just because Messi the puma thinks he’s a small domesticated kitty doesn’t mean he is. That’s something Messi’s parents want everyone to remember. Aleksandr and Mariya Dmitriev acquired their puma boy after it was clear he couldn’t live in the wild as a young cub.
Runt of the Litter
Aleksandr and Mariya first spotted little Messi at the Saransk Zoo in Penza, a city in western Russia. He was one of three eight-month-old cubs named for soccer stars playing in the World Cup in Russia that year. But he wasn’t well and was the apparent runt of his litter. The Dmitrievs just knew they needed to bring him home and build him up.
But they had reservations at first, with Mariya telling The Mirror, “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.”
Before long, they were buying the sickly cub from the zoo, and “he was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention.”
From nursing him back to health to training, to creating a house that provides enrichment for a wild cat, every bit of the work the proud cat parents put in was worth it for Messi! Aleksandr and Mariya devoted everything to their new big kitty, with Mariya explaining, “It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny.”
Little for a Big Cat
Messi may be big for a housecat, but for a puma, he’s remained small because of his health problems.
“He is only two-thirds the size of a normal puma and only weighs 90lbs, but that’s still 10 times more than an average cat.”
And these paw parents realize the danger that still exists no matter Messi’s size.
“Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal.”
He’s also spent much time being handled and trained by Mariya and Dmitriev, and their efforts show.
“Everyone who knows him thinks he is a human in a puma’s skin. He is very talkative and always answers when we speak to him. Sometimes he agrees with what we say, but sometimes he can be insulted. He’s an incredible animal.”
“We are so lucky he is like he is.”
The Dmitrievs focus on giving Messi and cheetah sister Greda everything they need to be healthy and happy big cats, but they want people to know something.
“We would not recommend having wild cats at home.”
Having a wild cat is a way of life, not a passing fancy. And the Dmitrievs know this. They have their puma because he was a sick boy who wouldn’t have survived otherwise. Now though, he’s a happy cat who loves sharing his life with his family and social media. In fact, you may recognize Messi from a particular photo that’s become quite the popular meme.
Follow @i_am_puma on Instagram and keep up with the life of a house puma! Learn more about cats and their big cousins and check out Find Out Why Cats Can Roar Or Purr, But They Can’t Do Both.
Feature Image: @i_am_puma/Instagram