Couple Says Their Pet Cougar Is Part of Their Family: 'It Was Love at First Sight'
They adopted him from a petting zoo.
A Russian couple lives with their pet cougar in a small studio apartment, and he’s just another member of their family.
Alexandr Dmitriev and his wife, Mariya, decided to adopt a young cougar from a petting zoo in 2016 and have been raising the 2-year-old cat, Messi, as a house pet ever since.
“The first time we saw him in the zoo, I think we both had the same feeling towards this animal,” Mariya Dmitriev told Barcroft. “It was such an excitement, such tenderness. Like, I don’t know, it’s impossible to grasp but it was very strong."
Messi follows a strict diet of turkey, beef, a bit of chicken breast and some bones. He gets washed in the bath, has his nails trimmed, his teeth checked and he receives a special brush-down every day. His food intake costs the family about $10 a day.
“We give him different types of meat so that he can get all the necessary vitamins and micronutrients,” Alexandr Dmitriev said.
The couple has established a very close relationship with the cat. He loves to be cuddled and petted.
And fortunately, the cougar has never seriously bitten his owners. The couple says they completely trust Messi.
“We live together, sleep together," Alexandr Dmitriev said. "He convinced us with his behavior that he's a full member of our family and that he wouldn't be doing anything bad apart from some small naughty things. He’s very kind and likes contact. He gets on very well with people.”
Due to unforeseen health issues, Messi is actually about half the size of a fully-grown cougar.
That doesn’t stop others from fearing the cat. While some are amazed and ask to pet Messi, others might keep their distance.
Fans on social media love the cat and Messi has become a local celebrity with more than 250,000 Instagram followers.
"It was love at first sight," Alexandr Dmitriev said. "He’s an amazing cat, loyal and very kind."
Trending on Inside Edition
16-Year-Old TikTok Chef Builds a Food Empire From Her Grandparents' Minnesota KitchenINSIDE EDITION InDepth
Army Drill Sergeant Seen Shoving Black Man in Viral Video Is Charged With AssaultCrime
FedEx Warehouse Shooting in Indianapolis Kills 8, Injures Several OthersCrime
Possible Sighting in Mysterious Case of Jackson Alexander Miller, Man Who Vanished as a TeenNews
$75M Beachfront Property Taken From Black Owners in 1927 Set to Be Returned to DescendantsNews