Mariya and Alexander Dmitriev were having a perfectly normal day when they decided that they would adopt a Messi from a local zoo.
They took the kitten from the zoo because she was sick and now they find that they are living with a 90-pound puma.
When they fell in love with the kitten, she was sick and they saw her at the local zoo. They loved her so much that they decided to buy her. They were surprised when they were told yes.
Now that the cat is 2 1/2 years old, they look back on that day and realize it was the day that their life changed. The wildcat is now bigger but in their eyes, it just means that there is more to love.
They have gone so far in their care for the big cat that they purchased a special coat and harness so that they can go for walks through the streets of Penza, Russia.
Mariya, who was 28, said: “His name is Messi, after the famous footballer.
He got his name from the zoo in Saransk where he was born, who had three puma kittens and decided to name them all after famous players in honour of the World Cup.
“When Messi was three months old he was sold to the zoo in our city Penza. That’s where we saw him for the first time and it was love at first site.
“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.”
She continued: “So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.
“We were so happy, and even though he was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention, we didn’t regret our decision at all.
She said that Alexander, who is 38, always wanted to have a big cat.
She said: “Alexander loves animals so much and had been dreaming about having a big cat for his whole life. But 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.
“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.
“Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal.
“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 and incredible animal.
“We are so lucky he is like he is and we would not recommend having wild cats at home.”6
When they brought Messi home, they already had a cat but they are not getting along very well.
Mariya said: “We have a sphynx cat and her name is Kira. She has been living with us for a long time and she didn’t support us when we got her a new friend.
“She doesn’t want to be friends with Messi and hisses at him whenever she sees him. We don’t allow him to get close to her.”