A couple hiking in the mountains outside Tucson were clawed and bitten by a rabid bobcat that did not relent until the man killed it with his geologist's hammer.

Rich Thompson, a geologist at the University of Arizona, and his wife, a marine biologist at the school, were receiving rabies shots after Saturday's attack.

Thompson said he knew the cat was rabid the moment he saw it staring at him and Katrina Mangin in the Santa Rita Mountains.

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 and jumped 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 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."

After receiving initial treatments at a hospital, the couple went with a state wildlife manager to retrieve the dead bobcat.

Pima County health officials last week warned of an increase in rabies cases in the area.