‘Like owning a dog’: Cougar kept as pet in Russian apartment (VIDEO)

‘Like owning a dog’: Cougar kept as pet in Russian apartment (VIDEO)
A Russian couple who adopted a wild cougar as a pet has thousands of followers who watch their feline’s daily frolics on the cat's dedicated social media accounts.

Like most house pets, Messi likes to cuddle and play around, but it’s a wild animal that lives in an apartment in the Russian city of Penza with owners Aleksandr and Maria. “He is like a dog. We started taking him for a walk, step by step. The animal hadn’t been really active before. Now we walk a lot twice a day, as it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t differ much from owning a dog in this sense,” Aleksandr says, referring to their beloved pet as “kitten.”

Despite his impressive paws, muscular body and a powerful tail, Messi is still a child, trying to win the attention of the couple’s other, more conventional, six-year-old feline. "[Messi] does not get along with our cat. He wants to play with her, but she beats him hard with claws, hissing at him.” Messi, though, cannot hold a grudge for long, as any child, Aleksandr adds.

Having spotted the cougar at a local contact zoo a year ago, the couple spoke to the owners who agreed to give the animal to them.

The couple capture their unusual pet in its daily setting, sharing pictures and videos of Messi on his own Instagram account with some 149,000 followers. Footage depicting Messi helping carve a Halloween pumpkin, messing with a Christmas tree or meeting a hedgehog, attract thousands of daily comments and likes.

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However, not everyone feels easy about the idea of having a feline predator as a pet. This is particularly true after this week’s incident in the Moscow region, in which a panther held in a private zoo mauled a man to death after he entered the cage to feed the animal. The owner, a Moscow businessman who is said to have ten other predators in his private zoo, has reportedly refused to euthanize the not-so-friendly panther.

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