“What am I going to do with a cat?” That was Dorothy’s first reaction to the robotic cat she received as a gift from NARCOG. It didn’t take long for her to become attached to the cat she has since named Precious. The robotic cat responds to movement and voices and is part of a pilot project using robotic pets to help older adults combat loneliness and social isolation.
Dorothy spends most of her time alone and Precious has been welcomed into her home and life. “There has been a change in Momma” said Dorothy’s daughter, Laurie. “She is quick to tell me what she and Precious have done during the day or what they have watched on TV”. “Mother took Precious to bed one night and when I asked her why, she said Precious just meowed lonely”. Having the pet has definitely kept her occupied and given her a purpose. The cat will respond when Dorothy moves or when it “hears” noises like a cough or conversation.
“If Momma gets agitated, Precious can definitely redirect her attention by meowing or purring”. The first time she heard her purr, Dorothy said “I didn’t know it would do that”. Precious provides something to fill her day and gives her something she can see and hear. Laurie believes the robotic pet gives her Mother purpose. “Momma really likes it when Precious rolls on her back to get her tummy brushed” said her daughter.
Individuals 60 and older who live alone and have no live pets of their own may be eligible to receive a robotic pet. The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at NARCOG will screen potential pet owners for participation in the project.