Robotic cats and dogs keep Stanton seniors company

STANTON, Calif. (KABC) -- New pets recently joined the Rowntree Gardens senior care community in Stanton. And although the pets look real, they're actually robots.

"These pets were really something we thought we could provide to the residents to interact with, comfort and provide comfort," said Libby

Anderson, a director with the Council of Aging-Southern California.

Anderson said 200 robotic cats and dogs will be distributed to the assisted living homes they serve in Orange County. The hope is to cheer up seniors and reduce stress caused by the pandemic.

"We felt this was the perfect tool to bring the residents out, to do something for them that didn't really involve any medication. Just a calming, soothing effect," said Anderson.

Extra federal funding from the CARES Act was used to purchase the pets, according to Anderson. Each one costs about $100.

"If you bark at the dog, it will bark back. If you pet the cat it will purr," said Anderson. "If you interact with them, they will interact back. No feeding, no liter training, so we are all good."

While these robot pets aren't real and only require a pair of batteries, they bring extra comfort and joy -- especially to some residents who suffer from dementia and believe the dogs and cats are real, said Anderson.

"We are just so pleased the residents have reacted so positively. This is what it's all about, bringing them a little joy after a year and a half," said Anderson.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Rowntree Gardens was located in Fullerton. The error has since been fixed.

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