Calderdale Man Finds Solace in Robotic Cat During Battle with Dementia.

What is dementia? Dementia is the term used for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain and usually have symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, and problems with speech and understanding that worsen over time. Dementia can affect a person at any age but it is more common in people over the age of 65.

There are over 200 subtypes of dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

It is estimated that there are 26,822 people in West Yorkshire with dementia, 37.6% higher than the national average[1].

Almost all of us will know someone who has been impacted by the condition, either directly or indirectly and the devastating impact that this can have on families and friends.

Pete, a 67-year-old gentleman from Halifax, received his diagnosis of dementia 8 years ago. This news was incredibly hard for Pete’s family, especially for his wife, Jen, who became his full-time carer.

Over the years, as Pete’s dementia progressed, he and Jen found support through the Carers Wellbeing Service Calderdale (Making Space) and Calderdale Dementia Hub.  

Earlier this year, Pete found a new comfort, thanks to the Carers Wellbeing Service, in the form of a robotic cat which he named “My Lovely.”

The companion cat, which is produced by Joy for All, was launched in December 2015 with the idea of bringing comfort, companionship and fun to our ageing loved ones.

The Carers Wellbeing Service decided to purchase two companion cats, which would be available to their clients to loan, they were brought to their weekly lunch club, which Jen and Pete regularly attend. Pete was instantly connected to one of the cats and after seeing the bond Pete had made, he was kindly allowed to take it home.

After a few weeks trial run, Jen was utterly amazed at how attentive, calm and relaxed her husband was when he had the cat, and how bonded he seemed to become.

Jen made the decision to purchase Pete’s very own companion cat, as she could not bear to see him without one, not only had this made a difference to his life, but also to hers.

Jen had noticed particular improvements in her husband’s overall mood, easing her anxieties and in turn allowing her to be able to get work done around the house, knowing that Pete is happily occupied with My Lovely.

Pete has enjoyed showing his beloved companion to family and friends, taking her on sponsored walks and even on car journeys as the distraction of being able to stroke his furry friend has meant he no longer feels the need to pull the handbrake or change the gearstick, making the ride safer for everyone.

Jen said:

“When Pete sees My Lovely it’s like when a parent sees their newborn in the morning, that’s the only way I can describe it.”

Hospital admissions can be a worrying time, particularly for someone suffering from dementia due to changes in the environment and various medical testing. During Pete’s most recent admission, which lasted for six days, he was able to take My Lovely with him, which allowed him to be just that little bit more content at a stressful time as well as frequent visits from his family.

Jen highlighted the importance of reassurance and familiarity, especially in medical settings, and took time to reflect on John’s Campaign which began in 2014 in memory of Dr John Gerrard.

John’s Campaign believes that carers of those with dementia, or other needs, should not just be ‘allowed’ but should be welcomed into medical settings and that family carers have a right but not a duty to continue to care for their loved ones, as after all, in most cases they are their best advocates.

The overall impact of the companion cat on Pete and Jen’s life has been incredible and wanted to share their story with others, so as not to lose hope, and to try whatever means necessary to try and make your loved ones more content through difficult times.

“The companion cat, out of everything we’ve tried, is worth its weight in gold” exclaims Jen.

If you would like to see more about companion cats and how they can help those with dementia, you can watch this short video produced by VAC where Sowerby Bridge Rotary Club and Memory Lane Café gifted a cat to one of their service users, Sylvia. – Watch Here

The Happy Valley DEEP Group, which was set up by Calderdale Dementia Hub last year to help businesses and organisations to become dementia friendly, also celebrated its first-anniversary last month in Elland.

Every month the group comes together and offers discussion and action to the community, as well as learning, support and friendship to each other to give those living with dementia a voice.

Regular attendee Julie said:

“We are a monthly group of friends living with dementia who are committed to having our voices heard across the borough, but that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no fun. It’s great to know we have purpose following our diagnosis, and we’re always looking forward to welcoming new members to help influence more of Calderdale life.”

The Happy Valley DEEP Group meet on the 4th Wednesday of each month, please contact Lisa Berrett for more details if you’re interested in joining. Email:  Phone: 07513 727441

The Carers Wellbeing Service Calderdale provide carers aged 18 plus with an extensive range of resources and support designed to promote their own health and well-being.

If you would like to get in touch or find out more you can phone: 01422 369101 or email:

Do you or your organisation have inspiring stories that need to be heard? If so, the Community Journalist is eager to listen and share your stories!

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[1] Dementia Prevalence by Integrated Care Board, Alzheimer’s Research UK