Unlucky Penny: Cat Swallows One Cent Piece, Recovers at the ASPCA Animal Hospital

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 11:30am
Black and white cat recovering at animal hospital

Robert M. knew something was wrong when his 1-year-old cat, Kitty, began vomiting and stopped eating. But what he didn’t know was that Kitty had somehow swallowed a penny.

Earlier this month, Robert drove Kitty from his home in Bellmore, Long Island to the ASPCA Animal Hospital in Manhattan. X-rays revealed what looked like a shiny penny lodged in Kitty’s small intestine, having already passed through her stomach.

“It was the worst day ever,” says Robert. “She is such a wonderful cat and she was just so sick.”

Dr. Anna Whitehead, who performed surgery on Kitty the same day, has retrieved coins from dogs in the past, but says it’s rare for cats to swallow loose change. 

She also says Kitty was lucky her condition was not worse, because of the penny’s composition.

Pennies dated before 1982 are made of 95 percent copper, and those dated 1983 or later are made of 97.5 percent zinc and coated in a thin plate of copper. The cent's composition was changed in 1982 because the value of the copper in one cent pieces rose above one cent.

“Stomach acid corrodes pennies made of zinc and can cause hemolysis, or a rupturing of red blood cells that leads to life-threatening anemia,” says Dr. Whitehead. 

In Kitty’s case, the penny had turned black from corrosion, making the 1986 mint date barely legible.

“It’s hard to say what happened or how long it had been in there,” says Dr. Whitehead. 

As for the penny, it won’t turn up again. Robert is keeping it as a reminder of Kitty’s ordeal and has taken it out of circulation.

X-ray of cat that swallowed penny

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The ASPCA has to make money to help rescue animals. They are non government funding so they depend on donations from people who care about animals and I care. Good luck to you Kitty. Love Animals.


Glad this Kitty made it. Wishing him a full recovery. Thank you Robert for being a responsible pet owner. You were there for your Kitty, what a blessing. Your Kitty is beautiful!! Lucky to have you, loving and caring.


Thank goodness the ASPCA was able to save this precious creature. Thank goodness for her Dad being so observant and loving. I know that the ASPCA does ask for money often, but it is needed. I am a monthly giver, just as much as I can, as I also try to help my local shelters as much as possible as I have rescued five beautiful cats from them. I also help the ferals in my area as much as possible. The ASPCA will continue to request funds, especially from those who already give, because you have shown that you care. If you cannot give more, then don't. But if you ever can, and their request shows up, wouldn't it be good to have that right there in front of you? Just give what you can, and don't stress yourself out over the requests. Stress yourself out over the millions of animals in need.


@Scott. I am not quite sure what you expect after donating to ANY non-profit. I give to WWF every month, automatic deductions, and I also give to any other non-profit organization that helps animals, domestic or wild, when I can each month. Every organization that I give to does send out friendly pitches on a regular basis to those who have donated in the past and that is because they realize that by focusing on people who have already been able to donate prior they might very well be able to do it again. I gave to the ASPCA last time in January and yes they do send out regular requests for help just as every other non profit that must survive on donations has to do. How sad that 7 years after you donated $50 you feel such resentment. The ASPCA is a wonderful organization and considering the fact that almost all of their resources comes from basically having to fund raise all of the time in order just to survive I would think you would respect all that they have to do rather than diminish it. Honestly, it is strange that so many years after you made a donation you are seething with such anger. I would bet that even a year after your donation if you were that upset and stewing in on it you could have written a quick email or made a quick phone call to request to be taken off their list.

S. O. Rooney

These emails have a little link in each one in order to unsubscribe. All you have to do is click on the link.


I forgot to mention that I love and respect the ASPCA and all of the other non profit organizations the help protect animals. I am so proud to donate to them and love to help whenever I can to truly help save all animals precious lives. We should be their voice. Thanks ASPCA.


Sounds like he got his two cents worth out of the ASPCA.




I'm so glad Kitty made it through this terrible ordeal....unfortunately, in 1988 as I was rolling up my pennies, my cat, "Sharky" swallowed a penny that was on the carpet and it got lodged in her intestine...when I got the call that she recovered from surgery I was overjoyed. 30 minutes later as I was leaving my office to go see her I received another call that her heart had just stopped. I was devastated. I warn people today about the perils of coins to pets...

S. O. Rooney

I am so sorry. What a heart-breaking story. At least you did the right thing for her. :-(