Posted on Feb 19, 2019

Russian couple lives in a one-bedroom apartment with Messi – not the famous football player, but two-year-eight-month-old puma. Alexander and Maria Dmitrievs from the city of Penza and their pet cougar have already become real Internet stars.

Messi was born in Saransk zoo, Russia, like two other cougars – Suarez and Neymar. The pumas were named after football stars because Saransk was one of hosting cities for 2018 World Cup.

The couple lives with Messi

Later Messi was sold to the Penza zoo. The cougar was smaller than a normal one because of health problems. Zoo personnel even planned to euthanize Messi as they were afraid of his further feeling unwell.

When the Dmitrievs saw Messi it was love at first sight.

Puma Messi

After negotiations with the authorities of the zoo and donating a considerable sum of money, the couple adopted Messi and brought him to their apartment. The Dmitrievs also have a sphynx cat named Kira, but cats do not cope and everyone has its own area.

Messi needs special care, so his ‘foster parents’ have had to redesign a part of the lobby. Now there is a pet house with play area – hiding hole, tree for climbing, huge scratching posts and many puma’s toys. Also, the Dimitrievs made one of the walls glassy so Messi wouldn’t feel lonely.

Puma Messi at home

Messi couldn’t be released into the wild because of his poor health and serious diseases – chronic cystitis, rickets, and muscle atrophy. All this become the first challenge for the Dmitrievs.

Even simple walks were problematic, especially in rainy weather. But the couple has found a solution for emergency cases – the bath, which is a suitable tray for such a big cat.

Because of the aforementioned illnesses, walks were quite short at first. But Messi had a special diet and took vitamins and after several months he was able to take 3-kilometer walks and even made timid attempts to jump. Messi’s success was varying, so the Dmitrievs began considering professional training with specially balanced workouts.

Puma Messi in the bath

After numerous rejections, the pet cougar was accepted to a local dog training facility.

Firstly, he attended individual training 4 times per week, lately – in the company of dogs. Messi strongly stood out among dogs, but due to the general atmosphere and competent approach, the dogs warmly accepted the puma.

Professional training has benefited not only to the puma’s well-being. Even the relation between him and his owners are becoming stronger. And Messi grows a much more intelligent pet and responds to about 10 commands.

The pet masters training quickly because he is very clever: he opens windows and doors on his own, sits in a corner when making a mess and touchingly asks for forgiveness.

Puma Messi Alexander Dmitriev


Nevertheless, his parents say, that Messi has a typical cat character. For example, he likes to rip to shreds boxes, roll different things (preferable pumpkin and melons), and distort plastic bottles. But his favorite pastime is climbing on the toilet window to look through it at the vast grassland.

Proper care and treatment, regular veterinary supervision made the life of Messi much better and richer.

Because of the illnesses, this puma remains smaller than its wild relatives. Nevertheless, Messi seems absolutely fit, that allows him to travel a lot and move freely in unknown worlds.

The puma feels comfortable traveling in a spacious car and exploring forests, fields, coasts, mountains with curiosity – in general, any places where loving owners take him regularly.

Messi also is an Internet-superstar – he has an Instagram account and a YouTube channel, which Maria manages. Thousands of people watch his videos and over 400,000 followers have subscribed to puma’s Instagram account.

The Dmitrievs have to deal with animal rights activists, who criticize the couple for parenting Messi under domestic circumstances and want the cougar to be shifted to a wildlife reserve or a sanctuary. The activists are sure as soon as Messi becomes mature, he is expected to be a danger.

However, the Dmitrievs don’t believe in all these creeds and keep repeating for the hundred times that Messi couldn’t survive in the wild.

And would you like to have such a pet?

Being a journalist is not only my profession but true purpose. I believe that there are no bad thing is our life, but only bad approach to them. If you look with positive on every situation, it will definitely change for the better.