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The joys and benefits of robotic animals

Cathy Schutt | Jan 12, 2021


Harry and Lloyd are two cute tabby cats living in my house. My family adores them. They bring us much needed joy, especially as my nine-year-old daughter navigates schooling from home during a pandemic. Harry likes to sit on my lap and hang out, but if I pet him too much, he jumps down. And although Lloyd adores my daughter, he also gets tired of all the attention and runs away.

Because the cats tire of the attention, but we still want to cuddle and pet our fur babies, I wanted to find an animal that wouldn’t run away. So, I purchased a robotic cat for my family.

The thought of using a robotic cat jumped into my mind many times during the past few months. When I finally bought one, my daughter named her Joy because that’s how she feels when the cat is around. Now in the evening, Joy sits on my lap. She doesn’t leave; instead, she lets me pet her and offers me peace during these stressful pandemic months. My daughter even sits with Joy on her lap during her virtual school class.

I first learned about robotic cats and dogs through my experience in therapeutic recreation at Walker Methodist.

Robotic animals are well-known and well-loved among residents at Walker Methodist, too. Although Walker Methodist originally invested in robotic animals as a way to soothe residents living with dementia, we quickly discovered these lifelike animals benefit all types of people. Just look at Marty’s story…

When Marty moved into Walker Methodist, she was heartbroken to leave her precious cat behind. She just couldn’t care for her pet anymore. Marty lived on a farm most of her life, so moving to an apartment without animals was a difficult transition. That is, until the team introduced her to a robotic cat. Marty knew the cat wasn’t real, but that didn’t matter. She loves that when she talks, the cat meows back. When Marty pets the cat, the animal purrs and kneads her paws. Even though the cat is robotic, it brings Marty comfort to have a pet once again.

These robotic pets also bring ease and simplicity to residents’ lives. No feeding, emptying litter boxes, allergies, or sharp claws. In fact, HomeCare Magazine reported that “interactions with the robotic companion pet decreased feelings of anxiety, increased communication abilities, and/or increased general well-being…[The study showed] a significant reduction in agitation, social isolation, and expressions of sadness.” At Walker Methodist, we’re committed to Life. And all the living that goes with it. For many residents, that includes a robotic animal that increases their wellbeing and lifts their spirits.

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