DeDe Phillips grew up in the country, and she knew all about bobcats – including how they kill.
"They go for your jugular," the Georgia woman recently told OnlineAthens. "[B]ecause when they can get the vein you're dead in a couple of minutes."
That intel on the wildcat's attack plan may have been what saved Phillips' life. On June 7, the 46-year-old came face-to-face with a rabid bobcat, setting off a bare-knuckle death struggle between Phillips and the animal. She won – killing the cat with her hands.
"I thought, 'Not today,'" she told OnlineAthens. "There was no way I was going to die."
Phillips lives in Hart County, nearly 110 miles northeast of Atlanta. Her home is nestled in soybean fields and woods. Despite the rural backdrop, Phillips had never seen a bobcat in the region until she was outside in early June. She had just bought a new truck, she told WYFF, and was fixing a bumper sticker to the back window of the new ride: "women who behave rarely make history."
After going inside to get her iPhone to snap a photo of the sticker for her husband, Phillips returned to her gravel driveway. She noticed a neighbor's dog barking. Then she saw the cat prowling near her car. She managed to snap a photo of the animal before it turned to her.
"As soon as it took the first step, I was in trouble and I knew it," she explained to CBS 46. The cat jumped, it's claws raging for her face.
"It caught me slightly on my face, but I got him before he could do much damage there," Phillips explained to OnlineAthens. "I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this."
As she fought for her life with an animal revved up and sharp as a buzz saw, she uttered no cries or shouts for help. The struggle was silent. Her 5-year-old granddaughter was sleeping inside the house. Phillips worried shouts and screams might bring the child outside, and give the bobcat a new target.
"I started praying, don't let her come to the door," Phillips told CBS 46.
So she continued to squeeze the life out of the animal. When finally the bobcat stopped moving, Phillips shouted for her daughter-in-law to call 911 and her son, she told OnlineAthens. Her hands, however, stayed clenched around the bobcat's motionless neck – Phillips wasn't sure if the animal was really dead. Her son arrived before police with a handgun but Phillips felt she was too close to the bobcat to shoot it.
Instead, her son took out a knife.
"My son stabbed it four or five times, but it never budged so I knew it was completely dead," Phillips told OnlineAthens.
The Hart County Sheriff's Office confirmed to WGCL that they responded to Phillips' home for a bobcat attack. The dead bobcat, killed with a knife, eventually tested positive for rabies. Phillips was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for cuts and gashes, as well as broken fingers. She also is undergoing treatment with the rabies vaccine.
"It was either me or the cat and it was going to be the cat that day," Phillips told WYFF.