Living in a one bedroom apartment in Russia, shouldn't cause any problems for a loving couple like Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev, but that was before one of the world's most renowned soccer players moved in.
Well, not actually the soccer player himself, but a burly, furry namesake puma Messi.
Weighing in at 90lbs, the Dmitrievs first saw Messi at the Saransk zoo in Penza. He was bought for the zoo at the age of three months and suffered some serious health problems
Born, one of three cubs (all named after soccer players) Mariya and Aleksandr immediately fell in love with Messi and wanted to take him home with them, despite his poor health.
After appealing to the zoo to take Messi home with them, they eventually became Messi's new parents.
Aleksandr always had an affinity to big cats, believing that one day he might have a lynx for a pet, never contemplating that his new family member would actually be a puma. The couple believe it is truly part of their destiny to be parents to this big boy.
It took a lot of soul searching, the couple report about whether it was right to have a puma for a pet. When the zoo gave permission for the couple to take Messi home, they knew it was meant to be.
Even at 90lbs he's still only two-thirds the size of other pumas, and with his health conditions he has needed extra special loving care and veterinary assistance.
In many ways Messi is like a dog. Needing several long walks a day and looking very handsome in his harness Messi loves to be in the great outdoors. After searching for a wild animal handler, Messi eventually enrolled in dog training school and is able to respond to ten commands easily.
Messi loves people and responds well to life outside the zoo. With 500k Instagram followers, Puma Messi is a star in his own right. His human parents converted their hallway into his special play area, including a tree, bamboo and a place to hide. He's a pussy cat, just a really huge one, he curls, he sleeps, he snuggles and he likes a warm, comfortable spot to sit.
Animal activists have raised objections to Messi's living conditions citing the fact that he is a wild animal, and deserves a more suitable living situations. The Dmitrievs believe he would find it hard to survive in more traditional conditions, due to his health conditions and being in unfamiliar territory.
One thing's for sure, Messi is a well-loved feline, a pampered pussy cat in the extreme.
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