A Russian couple have revealed how they adopted a puma that lives now with them and their more traditional cat in their apartment.
An adorable video shows the couple doing everyday things at home with the now two-and-a-half year old wild cat.
The incredibly sweet footage shows the big cat at home with the couple as he plays with them and tries to wake his owners while they sleep by licking them.
Mariya and Alexander Dmitriev said they ‘fell in love’ with puma kitten Messi when they saw him during a visit to their local zoo in 2016.
The puma, who was born in the zoo with two other puma kittens, was named after after Argentinian player Lionel Messi in honour of the World Cup two years ago.
The wild cat had health problems when the couple first met him and was only two-thirds the size of a normal puma.
After adopting him, they had to nurse him back to health.
Feline fine! Mariya and Alexander Dmitriev said they ‘fell in love’ with puma kitten Messi when they saw him during a visit to their local zoo. Here, they give the puma a bath and pose with him by the Christmas tree
Living on the wild side: Alexander, here with Messi, always dreamed of having a big cat as a pet but he always thought he would get a lynx
To allow the animal to move around freely, they have adapted their hallway into a puma play pen, and invested in a special coat and harness for him so they can take him on walks.
Mariya, 28, said that when the couple first spotted Messi at the zoo for the first time it was love at first sight and convinced the zoo to let them take him.
‘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 said.
‘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.’
Pawsome: Messi is even friends with the neighbourhood dogs. The wild cat was only two-thirds the size of a normal puma, but that’s still 10 times more than an average cat
One of the boys: Messi poses with two dogs from the neighbourhood
Good driving companion: Messi takes a ride in the car with owner Alexander. The couple have adapted their hallway into a puma play pen, and invested in a special coat and harness for him so they can take him on walks
Alexander, 38, had always wanted to have a big cat as a pet, but he always had in his head that he would have a lynx so getting a puma was ‘a surprise’.
‘Alexander loves animals so much and had been dreaming about having a big cat for his whole life,’ Mariya explained.
‘It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny.
‘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.
Love at first sight: Mariya embraces the animal. The couple do not recommend having wild cats at home as they know that they are lucky that Messi has a calm temperament
The couple, however, would not recommend having wild cats at home as they know that they are lucky that Messi has a calm temperament.
The couple already had a sphynx cat called Kira when they bought their pet puma but the two have not been able to get along.
As the puma is still a kitten, he naturally wants to play with her.
‘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.’