Cats are not known to be nature’s most loving animals, but Hasbro has created an animatronic cat so lifelike, you might think it actually cares about you.
The Companion Pets, part of the Joy For All line, are Hasbro’s way of reaching out to seniors—a demographic the toy company generally only touches on when grandparents by toys for their grandkids. The robotic cat aims to provide some relief for elderly people stuck in pet-free environments and living situations.
It’s always hard to place the origin of cat breeds, but it seems like Companion Pets come directly from the Uncanny Valley. Thanks to the technology stuffed inside the robo-cats, they are able to closely recreate the behavior of an actual cat. Five state-of-the-art sensors that respond to light and touch—including petting and hugging—give the robotic cats the ability to react to human interaction. The cats also feature meowing sound effects and a vibration motor that makes purrs maintain a realistic feeling.
Companion Pet cats are powered by four replaceable C batteries. To extend the battery life as long as possible, the cat will close its eyes and go into sleep mode if left alone.
Petting the futuristic feline on the head will make the cat lean into the motion like it’s demanding more, and running your finger through its fur for long enough will eventually result in it rolling over for a belly rub. The most unbelievable part of Companion Pets is that a cat would want that much attention.
Though Companion Pets may seem like a cop out on actual companionship, they do serve a purpose; cat lovers staying in hospital or assisted living settings might have difficulty getting their fix thanks to recent guidelines issued by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) that suggests cats be excluded from use as therapy animals. Companion Pets could fill that void.
Even if the recipient of the faux feline can see through the facade, there can be benefits for keeping a toy around. Research from the VU University Amsterdam found that stuffed animals can have a soothing effect on individuals suffering from depression or low self-esteem—issues that elderly people can be especially prone to.
“At Hasbro, we believe the power of play can add joy to every stage of life, and we’re excited to bring this happiness and fun to a new audience through the Joy For All brand,” Hasbro Vice President of Business Development Ted Fischer told the Daily Dot. “With engaging, lifelike qualities, the Joy For All Companion Pets have appeal that spans generations, and we hope the products will inspire multi-generational play between grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.”
The first run of Companion Pets—which includes cats in creamy white, silver with white paws, or orange tabby—are selling for $99. Other versions of Companion Pets, including other animals, are said to be on their way in the future.