Robotic pets helping assisted living patients

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Robot pets are becoming more common in retirement homes. They're not as much responsibility as a regular pet, and can bring a lot of joy to their owners.

“It has enriched my life, you cannot believe how much,” said Ridgecrest Village resident, Barb Thede.

Robot pets are giving life a new spark for Ridgecrest residents.

“We have a new hair dresser, and she advertised that she would streak hair any color you wanted it,” said Thede. “But it washes out, so I decided I would do it again. This time I took my cat with me. I said, 'Do you think you could streak the cat right here?'”

The caretakers are grateful, too.

“I know how happy she is with the cat, and that's what I like,” said caretaker, Cindy Poppens. “Virginia and I have become close.”

Where it might have gotten lonely before, now there's a friend.

“When a person is in a room by themselves basically, it's nice to have something that you feel is there with you,” said resident, Clair Odell. “The sounds, the purring, the mewing seems to be very soothing.”

“She wants her tummy rubbed. So you're reading a book or watching the television and you have the little cat on your lap, so you don't feel so alone,” added Thede.

Odell remembers the first time he met his daughter's pet.

“When we went to see her and her new cat, the excitement and the joy that she had when she was showing it off and showing off its antics,” he said.

He knows it can be hard relating to other residents at times.

“Being a younger person in a nursing home is kind of difficult for her to have people to relate to or something to relate to,” he added. “This gives her something to relate to all the time.”

Barb Thede says it has brought miracles to their community.

“It is peace.”

Officials at Ridgecrest Village say the next step is getting pets with reminders in them for residents - letting them know about appointments and when to take their medicine.