It’s a given that pets are good for people. At the very least, they bring a smile to your face. At the most, they can give you the greatest comfort at the most trying time in your life. Times have become particularly tough for Bob Wright, a retired veterinarian, due to Alzheimer’s. But these days he derives the most joy from his loving and devoted cat Mooshu.
As a retired veterinarian, Bob has been around animals most of his life, giving them the greatest love and care, others and his own, almost on a daily basis. Given his dedication, it’s not unusual for animals to love him back.
In 2009, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Bob has been struggling and finding things to make him happy have been hard to come by. It was to find pleasure in anything, even in the simplest things that would usually cheer him up. One constant joy remained, however, and that was Mooshu.
The extremely social and affectionate cat joined the Wright family in 2013. Always looking for a warm and cozy snuggle, he must have sensed how much his new dad needed him, as Bob was already battling Alzheimer’s disease at the time.
According to Bob’s wife Patricia, “I kinda think he does know that his daddy needs him more now than before.” She added, “Bob kept asking for a cat in his lap, so I kept picking Mooshu up and putting him in Bob’s lap. Now he’s there all the time and he sleeps in his arms at night.”
If he wants to, Mooshu could get some free time with the help of the other family cat, Norman. But for some reason, a strong bond has formed between the adorable cat and the retired veterinarian. He is more than willing to spend the whole day with his human, sensing the man’s frailty and need.
Mooshu seems to intimately understand what Bob is going through. Keeping a watchful eye on him, Mooshu has essentially become Bob’s most ardent protector and guardian. “When Bob gets his shower, Moosh is the one who is in there meowing and rubbing against him like he’s trying to make sure he’s OK,” shared Patricia.
But cats are cats and though he spends as much time as possible with Bob, sometimes Mooshu gives in to his natural instincts. He will find the time to go off and enjoy himself, which unfortunately upsets the retired veterinarian. Bob often gets distraught and unhappy during the rare times that Mooshu decides to disappear and do his own thing.
When this happens, Patricia has no choice but to get creative to cheer up her husband. “Bob was so happy with Moosh on his lap and it kept him so calm, that he wasn’t happy unless the cat was there,” Patricia said. “I had to buy him a robot cat to keep him company when Moosh was doing cat stuff.”
Robotic pets have become increasingly popular in dementia care since they provide a soothing presence without having to be fed or cared for. People afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are often depressed, lonely, and anxious, and animal-assisted therapy is known to have positive effects on the mood and quality of life of dementia patients.
Studies have yet to prove that robotic pets are just as effective as live animals, but initial research on people with dementia and time spent with robots show patients with lower levels of depression and agitation. Additionally, robot pets don’t need walks or visits to the veterinarian, so they are seen as low maintenance options for people who might have difficulty caring for a pet.
Mooshu wasn’t too welcoming when he first met the robot cat, who was suddenly taking his place in his dad’s lap. But he eventually got used to it, and understood that some time off might be good for both the real cat and the retired veterinarian.
Caregivers, whether it’s a cat or a human, need their own time, too. Now, whenever Mooshu decides to go off to play and explore and just be a normal cat, then the robot cat can keep Bob company until Mooshu comes back, fully recharged and ready to care for Bob again.
It is certainly not easy living with Alzheimer’s, but Mooshu is doing his best to help the family support Bob. “Moosh is the one thing that Bob still enjoys,” Patricia said. “He used to be a veterinarian, so animal contact is very important to him and Moosh willingly supplies it all the time.”
Watch the retired veterinarian give Mooshu loving kisses in the video below: