North Utica Community Center Using Technology to Battle Loneliness

UTICA, NY – The North Utica Senior Citizens Community Center has received a grant from The Mele Family Fund and The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida County to help battle loneliness using robotic pets. The two-pronged approach to mitigating social isolation, loneliness, and cognitive decline will include the animatronic pets and the promotion of social interaction using technology. The American Heart Association published research in the journal Circulation that analyzed whether people with pets live longer. The study found associations between pet ownership and low blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels.

Another study used participants who had high blood pressure and high stress jobs in which half of the participants agreed to adopt a dog or a cat. Six months later, the participants who got a dog or a cat had significantly lower blood pressure.

A study to explore the value of robotics pets in alleviating loneliness for older adults published in the Journals of Gerontology Series B Robotic Pet Use Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults found “Participants living alone, with fewer social connections and less active lifestyles, derived the most benefit from interacting with their pets. Common responses to pets included cuddling, petting, grooming, and sleeping with them. Some shared or loaned their pets, while others refused to loan their pets to interested peers. Most reported showing their pets to others, which helped some facilitate communication and social connections.” The conclusion: “Robotic pets may be an effective solution for alleviating loneliness in older adults, especially among those who live alone, have fewer social connections, and live less active lifestyles.”

North Utica Community Center is a part of The Neighborhood Center, a comprehensive Human Services Agency in Central New York. The Senior Center is a place where generations can gather, learn, and grow. All services of the Neighborhood Center are based on a philosophy of empowerment - helping people to help themselves. For more information about The Neighborhood Center and its services go to

  • Cat-like movements & sounds: our revolutionary vibrapurr technology gives the cat an authentic purr that sounds and feels just like real purring. As a real cat would, our companion pet cat is able to open and close its eyes, lift its Paw, open its mouth and move its head and body. The companion pet cat also has synthetic, soft, brushable fur inspired by real feline breeds.
  • Built in sensors: using the built-in sensors, our companion pet cat responds to motion and touch such as Petting and hugging, much like the real Cats you know and love, but doesn't require any special care or feeding.

  • Puppy-like movements & sounds: Our companion pet acts just like a real puppy
  • State of the art: Our revolutionary barkback technology allows the puppy to respond to your voice
  • A rich experience: Designed to bring comfort, companionship and fun to aging loved ones.