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What's New, Robocat?

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Looking for a furry companion? How about a house cat that doesn't claw the furniture or need a litter box? Tama, a life-sized robotic cat, was designed by Matsushita Electric as a no-mess pet for elderly people who live alone. She jumps, turns her head, talks, purrs, and even delivers the local news when plugged into a phone line. That connection also allows health-care workers to monitor how frequently a housebound owner pats or chats with the cat. Tama, complete with bells and whistles, costs $4,000 and will be available in 2001.

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