The most common type of heart disease seen in cats is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a disease which causes the heart muscle of the cat to become thickened and unable to function normally.
Less commonly seen is feline dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease in which the heart muscle becomes weakened. This also results in the inability of the heart to function normally.
Nutritional Supplements as a Form of Treatment for Feline Cardiomyopathy
There are many different medications that are used to treat feline cardiomyopathy, including furosemide, enalapril or benazepril, amlodipine and others. Nutritional supplements are often recommended as part of the treatment for these cats as well.
It is important to realize that these nutritional supplements are used in conjunction with other medications, not usually as a sole means of treating the disease.
Taurine Supplementation for Feline Heart Disease
Taurine is an amino acid that is essential to the diet of the cat. Taurine deficiency is one of the documented causes of feline dilated cardiomyopathy. Most cats with a true taurine deficiency respond favorably to a taurine supplement in a fairly short period of time.
Taurine is also quite commonly used to supplement cats with heart disease that do not have a documented taurine deficiency. Evidence that this supplementation is helpful is anecdotal but many veterinarians believe there may some benefit.
Supplementing the Feline Diet with Carnitine
Many cat owners with cats suffering from heart disease supplement with carnitine as well. Carnitine is a compound that is derived from the metabolism of amino acids.
Carnitine deficiency has been implicated as a cause of heart muscle disease in dogs. Carnitine supplementation in these cases is beneficial to the dog.
In cats, the picture is not so clear. However, many veterinarians do believe that carnitine is useful is treating cardiomyopathy in the cat also.
Enzyme CoQ10 as a Cat Supplement
Enzyme CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant and is used in many cases to aid in treating feline dilated cardiomyopathy.
Antioxidants work by controlling free radicals which can build up in the body and destroy healthy cells. Many veterinarians and scientists believe that antioxidants, such as CoQ10, can aid in keeping cells healthy in many different tissues, including the heart. For this reason, it is often used as a supplement in treating heart disease in the cat.
These nutritional supplements are generally given indefinitely, once started to treat heart disease. They can be given concurrently with most other heart medications. They are generally not curative (except in the case of taurine in some cases of dilated cardiomyopathy) but many veterinarians and cat owners believe they can be useful in aiding in the treatment of feline heart disease.
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