This Russian couple has the most unusual house pet, a cougar. They rescued the once-miserable, 8-month old kitten from the Saransk petting zoo, where it was kept in terrible conditions and suffered from several diseases.
After a long period of rehabilitation, young Messi now lives a happy and healthy life in a loving family. His owners agree that having a 90 lb feline in their home is not an easy task, but, as these photos and videos show, Messi is quite pleased to be a house kitty.
Messi has 2 other siblings, Suarez and Neymar, and all three of them got their names from famous soccer players because, at the time of their birth, Russia was hosting the World Cup. Early in his childhood, Messi started having health problems, and that is how he was sold to Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev.
During his stay in the zoo, Messi was kept in a very small 20 square meter (215 square foot) enclosure and was malnourished, which caused him to develop muscle weakness, rickets (a degenerative bone disease) and a urinary tract infection. He was also afraid to jump because he broke his paw at the age of 6 months.
Luckily, his health improved significantly after he was adopted by the Dmitrievs because they take him on a walk twice a day, feed him a proper diet and provide him with sufficient space to move.
Of course, the couple admits that getting a mountain lion was a moral dilemma, but they decided to adopt the puma anyway because otherwise, he wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving both in the wild and in a zoo. He needed special care.
Also, the couple found out that cougars are a popular pet in many countries, and after contacting a few puma breeders and learning everything about the maintenance and care of the animal, they took the leap of faith and adopted the big kitty.
Cougars, also commonly referred to as puma or mountain lion, are members of the Felidae family. They are a nocturnal species and the bulk of their diet consists of deer and other ungulates.
Fun fact: Despite their large size, cougars are actually more closely related to house cats than they are to other large cat species like jaguars and tigers.
Pumas are native to the Americas, and they are the largest feline species on these continents, with males being up to 2.4 m (7.9 ft) long from head to tail and weighing up to 100 kg (220 lb).
Messi is unlike most cougars, he is about half the size of a normal adult male because of his health conditions. The owners also point out that he is very gentle and loving.
Messi is now 2 and a half years old, and he grew up to be an avid hunter of his favorite toys and one of his favorite things to do is to be scratched behind his ear. He also likes taking walks and cuddling, the owners proudly announced.
In an interview to a Russian newspaper, the owners mentioned that Messi is very clever, too, so much so he learned to open windows and now often looks at the surrounding neighborhood from the kitchen window.
The family believes that Messi is no different from an ordinary house cat, with the only differences being his size and affection of water. The owners point out that Messi is so gentle and submissive that he is a bit afraid of the Sphynx cat that is the couple's second pet, despite being 5 times her size.
To learn even more about Messi and his family, you can see the video following this adorable picture.