When a loved one has dementia, you’ll do anything to take away some of their distress and pain. In the case of Cheryl Yates, she knew exactly what to do to help her 88-year-old father, Bob, through the final stages of Lewy Body dementia.
A lifelong cat-lover who had raised nine cats altogether, Cheryl’s dad desperately missed his feline friends but wasn’t able to leave the hospital. So Cheryl and her family, who live in Ontario, Canada, bought him a robotic cat from Joy For All, a former Hasbro company that aims to “bring comfort, companionship, and fun to elder loved ones,” per their website.
“My father loves cats and dogs, especially cats. He was a real cat man and always had cats,” Cheryl wrote on Facebook. “For Christmas, we bought him a Joy For All robotic lifelike companion cat in his favorite orange and white tabby colour. This kitty is amazing, totally interactive, and responds to petting, human touch and voice. This robotic cat purrs, meows and licks its paws. It rolls over, blinks, and head butts. My dad LOVES this cat so much. He named his kitty Buddy and my dad is so much happier and calmer and this cat brings him so much comfort and companionship.”
It’s clear from the photographs Cheryl shared on Facebook just how much the cat means to her dad. Many people commented on the post to send love to the family, and some of them knew exactly what makes the robotic, lifelike pets so special.
“My mother has dementia and she has that cat!” wrote Sylvie Schiller on Yates’ post. “It’s even the same color. She LOVES him! She’s had him for 3 years now and although she has gone downhill, if the nurse puts him on her lap and he starts meowing or purring, her face lights up and she gives out a big smile. I would recommend this cat to anyone in a heartbeat.”
Available in silver with white mitts and black with white mitts as well as the orange tabby Cheryl’s dad is now the proud owner of, the Joy for All Companion Pet Cat costs $99.99. And if your loved one isn’t a cat-lover, dogs are available too.
Robotic therapy pets have often been used to help with the symptoms of dementia, a progressive condition that affects movement and motor control. The New York Times reports that this version from Ageless Innovation, which hit the market in 2015, is sold at a lower price point than previous iterations. And while research is out on whether or not such products can provide lasting benefits to patients, many anecdotes exist of elderly patients forming strong bonds with these robotic pets and calming down in their presence.
“For a lot of our residents, it’s a chance to be a caregiver, and to be in an active, empowered role again,” Mary Farkas, director of therapeutic activities for the Hebrew Home nursing home at Riverdale in the Bronx, told the New York Times. “A lot of times this disease causes passivity, and we’re always looking for ways to combat that.”
If you’d like to know more about the product, check out this a video posted to the Ageless Innovation YouTube page about the robotic cat.
It’s so great that the cat provides therapy for older patients who may be in decline. Do you know someone this robotic cutie might benefit?