TUCSON - A rabid bobcat that attacked a couple hiking in the mountains outside Tucson was killed by the husband at the conclusion of the 10-minute confrontation, and the couple is now receiving anti-rabies shots.
Katrina Mangin and Rich Thompson were hiking in the Santa Rita Mountains when they spotted the cat, which stared at them.
"I knew immediately it was a rabid bobcat and we were in trouble," Thompson said of Saturday's attack.
He said they tried to get away but the bobcat pursued them, lunging at Mangin, climbing up her legs and wrapping its body around her, clawing and biting.
The couple fought off the bobcat, but it continued attacking, chasing them up the mountain and jumping on Thompson's back.
"I hit it with the backpack over my shoulder," he said. The cat fell to the dirt and lunged again. "It attacked me again, and I threw it down."
Finally, Thompson took out his geologist's hammer and killed the animal.
"It's very sad," Thompson said. "This poor kitty cat was deranged by its disease-riddled brain. I love the native cats. It was terrible to have to kill it."
The couple are both scientists at the University of Arizona, Thompson a geologist and his wife a marine biologist.
After the attack, the couple drove to a Tucson hospital, where they were given anti-rabies shots and strong antibiotics for bites and other wounds.
They returned to retrieve the dead bobcat the next day with Mark Friedberg, wildlife manager withthe Arizona Game and Fish Department.
An attack by a rabid animal "is definitely kind of rare," Friedberg said.
The couple received another rabies injection Tuesday and will get three more treatments.
Pima County Health officials last week warned of an increase in rabies cases in the area, with 38 reported near the Pima-Pinal county line as of April 18, officials said.
That's double the number from the same period in 2007.