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A New Toy Gives Nursing Home Residents A New Lease On Life

Ann Thompson / WVXU

A nursing home in Oxford, Ohio has recently brought in two new residents into their midst, but they're not human, yet alone alive.

The Knolls of Oxford purchased a pair of robotic cats, which come with real-life animalistic features, including purring, meowing, and blinking their eyes.

Ross Farnsworth, the executive director of the Knolls of Oxford told the American City Business Journal the robotic pets provide companionship to the lonely seniors in the residence.

“As soon as our residents pet them and interact with them, you can immediately tell that they’re overcome with joy and have a sense of comfort,” he said. “The companionship that they provide to our residents is truly therapeutic.”

Hasbro's Joy For All Companion pets operate in the same manner as a real cat and shares many of their adorable traits. The newspaper claims the fuzzy feline will nuzzle its head into a person's hand if the animal’s left cheek is stroked, it will purr if someone pets it's back or head, and if petted repeatedly, it will roll on its back to receive a belly rub.

The battery-operated toys also opens up an avenue for basic communication and social activity by helping the elderly break out of their shell, escaping potential social or emotional isolation.

The Brookdale Senior Living Community in Danvers, Massachusetts is another nursing home who carries Hasbro's robotic pets to help sooth its residents.

Despite suffering from dementia, whenever Lillian "Bunny" Hall, 92, is around her tabby cat, Milo, she immediately becomes exhilarated.

"His eyes are so big and pretty," Hall said. "Such a pretty kitty."

Mirlene Desrosiers, a program manager at Brookdale's memory unit, said she uses Milo to help calm Hall's anxiety.

"She will introduce Milo to the other ladies at the table ... if Milo is hungry, she will give Milo milk," Desrosiers said to Boston's radio station, WBUR. "She's calmer; her anxiety level is really next to none at all compared to what she was before."

Unlike real animals, these fuzzy felines don't break protocol as staff don't need to worry about allergy concerns, pet messes, and vaccinations, making them the perfect pet for a senior's residence.

Hasbro offers three variations of the feline's fur: tabby, creamy white, and silver. Along with the robotic cats, the company also sells a robotic Golden Retriever pup.

Would you ever get a robotic pet?

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com