Milo is a one-year old male cat who is full of curiosity and has a taste for metal. He was brought to Berkshire Veterinary Hospital on Sunday April 19th, 1998 with an unusual history. His young owner had been counting her savings when Milo happened to stumble upon the cache. Before she knew it he had picked up a penny and swallowed it. At first the owners were not sure he had ingested the penny but after seeing him pick up a second penny it became clear he had a liking for them. When they called Berkshire Veterinary hospital we advised that he be seen right away and we would radiograph him to determine if indeed he had swallowed the Penny. Milo's physical exam was normal but his abdominal radiograph clearly demonstrated a round metal object in Milo's stomach
Ingestion of coins, and in particular pennies, can result in serious medical problems. The first common problem encountered is intestinal obstruction as the body attempts to pass the coin through the intestinal tract. It is possible for many coins to pass through the intestinal tract of larger animals but in a cat it is almost certain a penny will become lodged once it leaves the stomach and starts down the narrow small intestines. The second problem is less obvious but potentially more serious. It is zinc toxicity. Pennies minted after 1982 contain significant amounts of zinc, which can be very toxic to animals. Zinc can also be found in other objects animals may swallow, such as zinc-coated nuts and bolts, some medicinal ointments, and even metal game pieces from board games.
an end-on view of the penny
a circular view of the penny
from Milo's stomach
The additional advantage of the endoscope is that it also allows us to clearly visualize the lining of the organ being examined. In this case, Dr, Makuc was surprised to see that an ulcer was forming so soon after the ingestion of the coin. Fortunately, by removing the penny, and with proper medication, he would be able to prevent Milo's ulcer from developing into a more serious problem.
Milo had a smooth recovery from the inhalation anesthesia and was ready to be discharged from the hospital the following day. He was pleased to be spared the additional risk and longer recovery period associated with a surgical procedure.