A robotic therapy cat can help improve quality of life for people with dementia, according to a pilot study out of Mälardalen University in Sweden. 

Researchers developed JustoCat®, an interactive robotic cat that breathes, purrs and meows, in an effort to meet the need for alternative forms of care for the growing number of individuals with dementia, said Christine Gustafsson, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. 

Evidence has shown several calming benefits to spending time with a pet, but for those with dementia, obstacles include a risk of infection, allergies and injury. In addition, pets come with additional responsibilities for caregivers. After learning about the promising outcomes of the robotic seal, PARO, on improving the mood of patients with Alzheimer’s disease in Japan, Gustafsson and her team designed a robotic companion to appeal to individuals in Sweden, where cats are a common domestic pet and are therefore more likely to work as a reminiscence therapy tool.