The latest gift idea to take this holiday season by storm might just prove to be one of the least expected, reported Starpulse.com. Hasbro’s latest creation – the animatronic FurReal Friends robotic cat – has reportedly already reached viral popularity and is being billed as the ideal way to help seniors feel less lonely throughout the year, without actually having to deal with the muss and fuss of a “real” cat.
“Hasbro is marketing the stuffed animal as a ‘companion pet’ for the lonely and the elderly.”
Offered for sale at just $99 the robotic FurReal Friends cats will purr and meow while being held, has fur that feels realistic and is lifelike in the expressions it makes. For example, the toy cat reportedly reacts positively when its face is stroked, will even nuzzle back against the holder and will roll over before eventually doze off to sleep when stroked for an extended period of time.
According to BetaBoston.com, shortcomings of the FurReal Friends cat designed for seniors include that it can’t jump or walk – a fact that could be viewed as positive because it also can’t claw up furniture, draperies or other household items. Of course, no litterbox is necessary, there is no chance allergies could develop and there won’t be any costly trips to the vet, either.
Still, Ted Fischer, who serves as vice president for business development at Hasbro, also pointed out there could be therapeutic benefits to the FurReal Friends robotic cats, which are equipped with a patented “VibraPurr” technology.
“The cat will meow in various different ways, depending on how its interacted with. It’s a very calming kind of feeling as it’s sitting on your lap.”
Hasbro reportedly began developing the “Companion Pet Cat” several years ago when the corporation’s market research team discovered that many stuffed animals were actually purchased for elderly individuals who were no longer able to own a real live pet. The cat comes in creamy white, tabby and silver and was designed to remind its “owners” of the pets they may have once owned.
Despite naysayers who condemn the FurReal Friends robot cats as yet another way for younger family members to avoid actually interacting with their elderly loved ones, CatChaneel.com is quick to point out that petting a cat has been proven to significantly reduce blood pressure and can work as a highly effective stress reliever among people of all ages, but especially the elderly, who are often more likely to suffer from anxiety.
“Robo Cat is anything but a standard, static stuffed animal; having the ability to meow, purr, and respond to being hugged and stroked. To make the fluffy feline even more realistic, there is a form of vibration within the cat, allowing the petter to feel the pulsation when it purrs.”
It’s also important to note BetaBoston.com reports that the FurReal Friends robot cat was designed by taking in the preferences of potential customers, which encompasses an enormous target market. Just how enormous? The aging baby boomer generation is expected to include more than 74 million adults over the age of 65 by the year 2030, which will encompass at least 20 percent of the U.S. population. Fisher also pointed out the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau expects there to be upwards of 19 million U.S. adults over the age of 85 by 2050, and it’s easy to see why Hasbro is working to develop products that will appeal to this growing demographic.
“Our experience was that it brought a lot of joy to the folks that had them. This product was developed and designed specifically for the senior market.”
Hasbro reportedly already sells robotic animals to children as part of its FurReal Friends series, which has now added Companion Pet for adults as an extension of that platform.
[Photo via Hasbro / Joy For all]