Ginny Ballou was half asleep when she reached over to pat her cat, Pretty Boy. Only the long-haired tomcat was nowhere in sight. What Ballou was running her fingers through instead was the coarse fur of a deranged raccoon.
The vicious animal had crept into the house through the cat door on Wednesday morning, sneaking in beside the 73-year-old woman in bed before jumping on Ballou's face and locking on, said police in Hingam, Mass.
"She had been sleeping on her bed and she thought it was a cat and she went to pat it and found out it was a raccoon," Sgt. Steven Dearth of the Hingam Police Department told ABC News. "It began to attack her and bit onto her mouth."
Ballou, her lower lip locked in the jaws of the creature, struggled for a terrifying two minutes before managing to pry the raccoon off with her thumbs and throw it to the floor.
Ballou could not be reached for comment, but her daughter recounted the details of the unnerving ordeal to ABC News affiliate WCVB.
"She used her landline telephone to smash it on the head. It ran out of the bedroom; she closed her door and called 911," Jen Bowles said.
When Animal Control and environmental police arrived they found the beast, not much bigger than a cat, hiding behind the toilet where they were able to rope and snare it, police said.
Hingham Animal Control Officer Leslie Badger helped subdue the raccoon and take it to a veterinarian where it was euthanized and tested positive for rabies.
"This is a first, to have a situation like this happen," Badger told WCVB.
Dearth also said this is the first time he's ever experienced this type of situation in all his time as a police officer.
"This is a unique occurrence and something you would not expect, especially with a small pet door," said Dearth. "She's had this cat door for 20 years and never had any issues with anything coming in."
Ballou received the first of a number of required rabies shots on Wednesday and was released from hospital later that night. She is at home recuperating from her injuries which include puncture wounds on her thumbs and fingers, stitches to a gash on her lip and scratches on her face and neck.