Ena Webber, of Walcott Avenue, Christchurch, Dorset, at first thought the creature was a cat but was shocked when she saw its distinctive black-and-white face and realised it was a raccoon.
The 71-year-old said: “The first time I saw it, it was sitting 10ft up a tree, fast asleep.
“I thought it was a cat. Because I wanted to do the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, and when there are cats around there aren’t any birds, I fired a water gun at it.
“The head turned around as if to say ’Go away, I’m sleeping here’ and there was no doubt it was a raccoon.