updated 12/9/2007 9:00:20 AM ET 2007-12-09T14:00:20

A relaxing soak in a hot tub came to an abrupt end when Marlene Todd came eye to eye with a mountain lion in her backyard.

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"I was kind of hidden, sitting with my back up against the side of the tub, and I heard a little rustling sound in the needles right beside me," she said.

Todd said she thought it might have been her house cat until she saw "this big, tan, hairy body" just 4 inches away.

"I didn't realize what it was until it took a leap and jumped up on the side of my hot tub," Todd said.

The cougar was cornered somewhat because the deck stairs blocked its retreat. It would have to go up and over the hot tub.

"It just took a leap. It jumped on the side of the hot tub," Todd said of the Thursday morning encounter. "We locked eyes, and it kicked off of the hot tub and ran away. When it jumped, it flipped my robe into the hot tub."

She summoned Deadwood police, who surmised the big cat was stalking some deer in the neighborhood and may have been attracted to the warmth of the hot tub on the frosty morning.

"Now I know what a goldfish feels like when the cat is staring in its bowl," Todd said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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