Senior Woman Drives Over 330 Miles To Adopt Cat Returned To Shelter

Two weeks ago, Newsweek told you about Thelma, a calm cat, whose owner sadly developed dementia and was left with no choice but to return her to an animal shelter.

Our article captured the heart of Patricia Luttrelle, 67, who instantly fell in love with Thelma. Within nine days of sharing her story, Thelma was adopted from West Milford Animal Shelter Society in New Jersey.

“I read the article about Thelma and it was such a sad story,” she told Newsweek. “I immediately wanted to get her and give her a quiet home.”

On Thursday, Luttrelle and her husband drove around 332 miles away from their home in Eastern Shore, Virginia, to meet the grey tuxedo cat.

Patricia Luttrelle and Thelma at the animal shelter.

West Milford Animal Shelter

Luttrelle said: “My cat passed away when she was 21 and my beagle also passed away due to old age last year—so we thought it would be nice to have another adult cat in our home.

“I wanted one just like Thelma. An easy-going and relaxed cat. So she fits the bill perfectly.”

After a five-hour drive, the couple went to visit Thelma.

Speaking about their first meeting, Luttrelle said: “It was wonderful. I couldn’t wait to get her home. She is just perfect.”

The following morning, the trio drove home and Thelma has already settled into her new home.

Luttrelle told Newsweek: “On the way back, Thelma didn’t make a peep, she’s a very calm cat. She’s exactly as she was described in the article.

“She is unusually calm. She has already let me brush her and she even rolls over for belly rubs, a lot of cats don’t do that.

“She makes me feel relaxed, it’s great having her here.

“We were meant to be.”

Luttrelle, a sales executive, said that she enjoys working from home with her furry friend.

Thelma sprawled out on her owner’s bed.

Patricia Luttrelle

Pet food company Purina’s website examines how cats can positively affect the mood of their owners and reduce stress. It states that the presence of a cat can lead to a decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone often associated with stress.

Additionally, interacting with a cat can trigger the release of oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone, which can promote feelings of happiness and reduce stress.

This interaction can include simple acts like petting or playing with the cat, which not only calms the owner but also provides the cat with affection and stimulates their senses.

Indeed, owning a pet can offer great companionship. Studies have revealed that a four-legged friend can most definitely boost your mental health and help combat loneliness.

In 2023, research conducted by the University of Georgia and Brenau University found that fostering cats significantly decreased loneliness and boosted mental health among adults aged over 60 living alone.

This study noted that after four months of fostering a cat, the majority of participants showed marked improvements in their loneliness scores and mental health, with most choosing to permanently adopt the cats​.