A Robotic Approach to Replacing Cats

Choose your favorie calming aid: Robot or cat?

A ton has been written about the soothing effects that animals can have on people, particularly in instances where the people are facing stress or dealing with an anxiety-related condition. As an animal-lover, I know that during a chaotic day, my dogs become a constant source of calm.

That’s why I was so intrigued when I came across a New York Times article on ways  robotic cats are being used to sooth dementia patients. It appears a growing number of nursing facilities are turning to robotic therapy pets to ease the agitation and anxiety that accompanies dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. While real dogs and cats are regularly brought into nursing homes and other healthcare facilities to cheer up patients, they aren’t always available at the odd hours a dementia patient might need care.

Here’s the real twist: While robotic therapy animals have been around for some time, they are wildly expensive and therefore, out of reach for many people and hospital facilities. The nursing centers interviewed in the New York Times piece are using a common toy—Hasbro’s Joy for All Companion Pets, in this instance, the cat model—for their therapy sessions and enjoying great success. The Hasbro cat crew comes in three variations and costs just $99.

While the piece said there is no research on the lasting benefits of robotic therapy pets, the anecdotal evidence shows that patients are forging close bonds with the furry machines and becoming more responsive as they relish their caregiver role.

Who doesn't like  a little ball of fluff, even with a control system inside?

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