Meet Bella, the digital cat, who comforts the elderly

Patricia Richards, a 64-year-old from Massachusetts in the United States, looks forward to her daily chats with her cat Bella.

Patricia says Bella does a lot of things for her and she loves her very much. What makes Bella so special and different from other animals is that she can talk, can check if Patricia has taken her medicines, plays music for her and calms her down when she is anxious.

This is because Bella is a digital pet on a tablet. She was created by Care Coach, a company that is developing alternative, technology-based models of care for the elderly that are cheap and flexible.

Patricia's health has improved after Bella came into her life and her treatment has become cheaper.

The pet provides 24-hour care, unlike Patricia's care centre, which is open only during weekdays.

Patricia talks to Bella when she is short of breath so Bella guides her through breathing exercises and plays music to calm her down.

Users can choose between a dog or a cat, and these are voiced by staff in the Philippines, who can see and hear users and voice the pets’ answers with a text-to-speech system.

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