Most afternoons, you’ll find 81-year-old Tom Clark snoozing with his pet cat, Aspen, on his lap. However, this cat doesn’t need to be fed or let outside. Aspen, the name of a cat he once had, isn’t real, but he just loves it.
Aspen is a robotic cat with artificial intelligence built in, designed to do normal cat stuff like stretch, purr and roll on its back.
“Sometimes, they’ll even ignore you the way a cat might, typically,” explains psychologist Dr. Caitlin Holly.
She started using these robotic pets about two months ago with dementia patients at Albany, New York’s Stratton VA Medical Center Nursing Home.
“The idea is that it’s a non-pharmacological intervention that can help with anxiety, it can help with agitation, restlessness,” Holly notes.