A cat-loving grandfather with dementia was given a cuddly robotic pet he thought was real to comfort him in his final days.
Robert Wyatt, 88, adopted dozens of cats throughout his life – once caring for nine at once.
The great great grandfather was hospitalised permanently in August last year after a decade living with dementia and he desperately missed having a pet.
He told his daughter Cheryl Yates, 61, his dying wish was to have a cat again – and two weeks before he died, she made his wish come true.
She gave him a robotic kitten which looks, feels and acts like a real cat, specifically designed to bring companionship and comfort to elderly people with dementia.
Robert, from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, was convinced it was real – and photos show his face light up when he held it for the first time.
He named it Buddy and cuddled the toy every day until he passed away peacefully with the cat in his arms last week.
Cheryl said: “My dad has been asking for a cat ever since he went in the hospital – he always had cats. At one point he had nine living with them, he loved them so much.
“He told me over and over again how much he missed his cats and that he wanted a kitty to sleep with again ever since he moved into the hospital in August last year.
“I am just so happy that I bought my dad that robotic kitty – his reaction to the gift was so priceless.
“He was so happy to have a kitty again. He believed it was real and named his kitty Buddy right away.
“This cat gave him so much comfort and joy and companionship.
“He never let go of Buddy. It was always in his bed with him, purring away and meowing when anyone talked.”
Bob worked as a parts and shipping manager, and lived with wife Beth, who helped him care for countless stray felines until she passed away in 2008.
Family man Bob had four biological children including Cheryl, four stepchildren, 12 grandchildren, five great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.
After being diagnosed with dementia in 2010, Bob lived alone before moving in with Cheryl and her husband Larry Yates, 68, in 2016.
He moved into Peterborough Regional Health Centre in Peterborough, Ontario in August 2019 for round the clock care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.
He often told Cheryl how much he missed his cats and she heard about Joy For All Cats – special robot cats for people with dementia.
Cheryl decided to buy one for her dad and finally gave him the companion he’d been so sorely missing.
Cheryl said: “It was actually the hospital my dad was living in that told me about the Joy For All Cats.
“I happened to see another patient with one of the kitties on his lap and I thought the cat was real – it was meowing and purring and blinking its eyes like a real cat.
“The man just loved the kitty, so I asked about the cat and made sure to get one for my dad for Christmas.
“The kitties are for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s and they are incredible.”
Robert died cuddling Buddy on January 8.
“My dad’s two dying wishes were to have a kitty again and to come home, and I am so happy I was able to make one of his wishes come true before he died,” said Cheryl.