SOUTH BEND -- Kathy Ruff was looking to adopt a kitten. She found it in the pages of her newspaper.
When Ruff opened The Tribune on Nov. 6 last year, she saw a photo of a malnourished kitten that she immediately knew was meant to be hers.
The accompanying story described how workers remodeling a building at Lincoln Way East and Miami Street found the 5-week-old domestic shorthair inside a shoe box that had been taped shut and stuffed in a garbage bag.
"Her face and her eyes got to me. I knew from the start that she was the one I wanted," Ruff recalls. "Then when I read her story ... I couldn't believe anyone would do something like that to an animal."
Ruff contacted South Bend Animal Care and Control. The kitten was too young for adoption, so she fostered the animal for two weeks and adopted it the day before Thanksgiving last year.
She named the kitten Spirit "because she had the spirit to survive."
Spirit weighed just 1.3 pounds when Ruff adopted her. She had developed anemia from fleas and was missing fur in some places. She acted frightened and didn't want to be held.
A year later, Spirit tips the scale at more than 9 pounds and sports thick white fur that's as soft as angora.
She was resting comfortably on Ruff's lap Tuesday afternoon, but she spends more time running around the house, playing with toys and wrestling with her adopted feline siblings, Molly and Cally, whom Ruff found last December through the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan.
And every morning, like clockwork, she wakes Ruff with a series of meows.