You might be thinking, why would a family own a Puma at their house? 
 
Isn’t Puma supposed to be released back in nature?
Messi is not like the average cougar, he won’t survive in the wild nature. As a result, he can’t live in the wild because he would be an easy target for other wild pumas. On top of that Messi Puma got a lot of health issues which make him even prone. With his inability to survive in the wild or a zoo, Messi had only one option left - being put down. 
 

How did you meet Messi the first time?
 
It was on October 30th, 2015 when three cubs were born in Saransk City Zoo. To celebrate the upcoming football championship hosted by Russia, the three cubs were named after famous football players. Messi is one of them. His name was given in honor of Lionel Messi.
 
Messi got a chance to stay with his mother for three months at the zoo before being sold to a contact zoo in Penza, a place where Dmitriev and Mariya met Messi for the first time in January 2017. They got a crush with Messi, just like love at first sight. The fact that Messi suffered from health problems and requires permanent attention did not discourage Dmitriev and Mariya from adopting Messi. They negotiate to the owners and asked if they could buy him and surprisingly they didn’t refuse.



What are the health issues that Messi is facing?

Messi gets chronic cystitis which causes him to goes to the toilet quite often. It was hard work for Dmitriev and Mariya teaching the cub to use litterbox until finally, they found the best way to implement. Two strolls per day (in the morning and the evening) and stairs to the bath. 

However, the struggle was still on, Messi experiences Rachitis and muscular atrophy. To encounter this, Dmitriev and Mariya give Messi vitamins and minerals as well as increasing the strolled distance every day. However, there was a bad surprise! After long strolls, the cougar started to limp on the right back paw. Messi got problems with Coxofemoral Joint (thin cartilage tissue and lack of grease).



Knowing all these health issues, how do you take care of Messi Puma?

Dmitriev and Mariya thought that they should give less energetic training to Messi. Then they decided to get Messi to school. But who will train such an unusual pet? They tried to call hundreds of handlers and cynologists everywhere and always experiencing refusal until finally, they found a Bobcats trainer who is willing to try to give training to a cougar. Messi attended the lessons four times per week so he got some friends.

Thanks to Messi’s adoring family, he’s not missing out on anything. Messi is taken care of and loved very well. The two-year-old puma trains with other large dogs close to his size and eat a proper raw diet. The Dmitrievs spend 20,000-40,000 roubles (roughly about $300-$600) every month on Messi’s food, which is raw meat, and have had to make several alterations to their personal and social life. 

 

Besides training and taking care of Messi, how do you play with such a big cat? 
We have converted their hallway into Messi’s den which has a tree in the corner and a hiding hole while the walls are made from bamboo to act as scratching posts. We set up a mirrored wall on which Messi watches his reflection while strolling in the hallway. But Messi’s favorite pastime is climbing on the toilet window and staring out of it at the vast grassland surrounding the apartment. He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat. Like any other cat, Messi loves playing with soft toys and also has a miniature soccer ball in his possession, which was gifted to him by a Brazilian journalist. While his passing and dribbling skills are not as mesmerizing as those of his namesake, Messi likes playing with the ball, which doubles up as an object to bite.
 
Messi has fascinated people all over the world and now he has more than a million followers on Instagram @i_am_puma and youtube channel. He also now has his official merchandise at vardise.com - check out Messi cool gears here.