Messi The Puma Was Rescued From A ‘Contact-Type’ Zoo And Can’t Be Released Into The Wild So Lives As A Spoiled House Cat

Aleksandr and Mariya Dmitriev share their one-bedroom apartment with one of the most popular names in football. Well, they don’t live with man himself but his namesake Messi the puma! The couple who live in Russia spotted the 90lb puma at the Saransk Zoo in Penza. They saw him, loved him took and the eight month old creature home.

Messi is one of three cubs who were at the zoo. The other two also have famous football players names, Suarez and Neymar. Football names were chosen to celebrate the city hosting four matches of the world cup. Messi came to the zoo when he was only three months old. The cat was suffering with health problems so Dmitriev asked the owners if they would be willing to sell him.




Aleksandr Always Wanted A Big Cat Just Like Messi The Puma

Aleksandr’s wife Mariya has said the he has always wanted to own 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,”.  “So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”



Messi’s care has been a challenge

Aside from the fact that he is a wild animal, he also needed extra care and medical attention. His owners said, “‘he was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,”. The couple nursed him back to health. Now he is healthy and fit however, he is still two-thirds of the size he should be.

Messi is just like any other pet and needs lots of exercise. So, his owners bought a special harness and coat so they can take him out 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”. “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.”


However, he wasn’t as easy to train as a dog. The couple did try to find a wild animal handler to help with the training but their search was unsuccessful.

They did find a dog training school that would accept Messi so now he is trained and responds to about ten 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,”.


He Is An Internet Star

An exotic cat as a pet is not something that we see often. So, the Dmitrievs document their life with Messi on social media. People love it! The footballer does have 100m follows on Instagram but Messi the cat is on his way to catching up with over 1m followers on his @I_am_puma account. He also has over 170k subscribers on his YouTube to.


Even though the couple live in a one-bedroom apartment they have really tried to make the space suitable for Messi. They have converted their hallway and now it has a tree, a hiding hole and bamboo walls.


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

As with every story there are some who view it negatively. Animal and environmental activists object to Messi’s way of living and believe that he should live in a sanctuary or on a reserve. Some view it is as a safety issue as Messi is a wild animal.

The couples response to this is “Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal,”. They believe that this is his best chance because he has never lived alone in the wild so may not survive with other animals.




Take A Look At Messi The Puma Playing With His Toys


You Can Also See How He Has A Wash To