People with dementia trying out lifelike pets

People with dementia try out lifelike pets and robotic companions

People living with dementia tell us what they think of a range of products designed to be pet companions.

We visited a group of people living with dementia in Hereford to show them currently available lifelike pets, along with some new products that are still being developed by Ravencourt Living. 

Precious Petzzz 

There’s a wide range of Precious Petzzz cats and dogs of various colours and breeds. 

They all provide a lifelike pet that feels like it’s breathing. Precious Petzzz don’t move or make a noise, and their strokable fur and peaceful sleeping are designed to provide comfort and reassurance. Each comes with its own bed. 

Lifelike pets

Precious Petzzz cat and dog, Robotic companion pet cat and Robotic companion pet pup.

Mike and Sue liked how realistic the dog and cat that we brought to the group both were, giving them ‘10/10 for looks’. 

Although Jane thought they looked good, she expected more from a pet herself. 

‘They’re very cute but don’t do much,’ she said. 

Brenda and Chris agreed they were realistic, but also weren’t inspired to pick them up and engage with them. 

This probably reflects that they might be more suitable for someone with more advanced dementia, who may get a lot more from simply stroking them. 

The cost – £24.95 including VAT – went down well. 

‘That’s a good price,’ said Mike. 

Robotic companions 

The group also tried out two robotic companion pets – a black and white cat and a golden pup. These have built -in sensors that mean they respond to touch, sound and motion in realistic ways. 

Jane liked how mobile, vocal and interactive the cat was. 

‘The purring gives life,’ she said, ‘and the meowing reminds you of its presence.’ 

She thought it would be good to have videos of the cat moving on the website so you can get a better idea of what it does. 

The cat’s appearance reminded Jane of a pet she used to have, and she could imagine this one sat on her settee at home. 

Although Brenda and Chris were less convinced the pets were for them, they thought they could help a person at a later stage of dementia.

In development 

We also showed the group two cats – one white and one ginger – and a breathing dog. These were all prototypes from Ravencourt, so it was an ideal opportunity to have an immediate impact on how they’re developed. 

The breathing dog has a heartbeat and gets warmer as you hold it. 

Berty the breathing dog

Berty the breathing dog.

While Mike and Sue noted that the dog didn’t look so realistic, they could see its benefits. 

‘Perfect for when feeling anxious,’ they said. ‘The warmth of the dog can be soothing too, having a similar effect to a hot water bottle.’ 

Brenda and Chris agreed, ‘It would be warm and calming. And it’s a great idea the cover being washable.’ 

The cats, which move and purr, were also a hit with Sue. 

If my mum was still alive, I would have bought one. She always wanted a ginger cat. 

‘It would be nice to have eye lids to go to sleep. The occasional movement of the tail is really nice.’ 

Although he has hearing difficulties, Howard could still feel the cat purring. 

However, Brenda and Chris thought the cats looked ‘angry’, and the group agreed their blue LED eyes were too bright. Ravencourt have confirmed they’ll be making the cat’s eyes yellow and less bright so they look more natural. 

Howard liked that the prototypes were all rechargeable, and the expected prices – with VAT relief, £160 for Marmalade the cat and £40 for Berty the breathing dog – felt fair compared to the costs of a real pet. 

‘I had a vet bill that cost the same as this cat last week,’ he said, ‘and this is a one-off payment.’ 

Mike also wondered about health benefits.

It would be interesting to see if they can have a physical effect on health, heartrates and blood pressure like real animals. 

Visit our online shop for these and many other helpful products: 

These Precious Petzzz and robotic companion pets aren’t eligible for VAT relief. However, Marmalade the cat and Berty the breathing dog from Ravencourt will be eligible for VAT relief and available soon. 

People living with dementia, and anyone purchasing on their behalf, can buy many specially designed products VAT free, saving 20%. Tick the box stating that you’re eligible for VAT relief at checkout. 

Helpful everyday products

Browse our shop for this and many other products that help living with dementia.

Visit our shop

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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer's Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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