A pet owner writes: My conventional vet wanted to put my 9 year old cat asleep after finding he had an enlarged heart from a x-ray. I did not want to, so he put him on Enalapril 2.5 mg and Furosemide 12.5 mg. He is alive but I think he is having issues with balance. He lost his appetite for a while so it’s a combo of raw (when I can get him to eat it ) or smelly can foods that he can smell. Is he losing his sense of smell (which is why I got salmon oil to put on his food too)? The enalapril is the lowest dose made (for humans too) so at 12 pounds or so isn’t that a lot? So he sleeps….eats….and has his chicken broth….low salt no msg or salt added.

You are right to be concerned about the side effects of conventional medication on your boy. It’s only been recently that these medications have been used in cats – they were considered dangerous for the feline species 10 years ago. Heart enlargement does not mean bad quality of life; it means protecting the heart and treating whatever clinical issues are present (if any). The beauty of holistic and Chinese Veterinary medicine is they treat the individual patient, rather than treating all heart patients with the same protocol.

My suggestion is to find an holistic veterinarian and get a second opinion. There are herbal formulas that help the heart function as well as (or better) than conventional medications. CoQ10 and Hawthorn fruit are two examples. Interestingly, both of these supplements can lower the blood pressure by 10 points; same thing as enalapril – 10 points.

It is possible a side effect of the medication if affecting your cat’s sense of smell. There are herbal formulas that work well for the heart too – Heart Qi tonic, Heart Yin tonic, and more depending on the Traditional Chinese Veterinary presentation of your boy.

I’m unclear on why he was started on furosemide. Furosemide removes excess fluid from the body; if your cat does not have fluid in the lungs then it may be an unneeded medication with its own side effects. Once, I had a heart patient who stopped urinating due to the furosemide (an idiosyncratic reaction – cause exactly what the medication was trying to prevent).

Yet another heart patient presented with a blood pressure of 247/221 (dogs and cats should have blood pressure similar to that of healthy humans – 120/90) and an extremely rapid heartbeat. CoQ10 and a classic herbal formula, Sheng Mai Yin, had her feeling better within 12 hours, her heartbeat had normalized and blood pressure dropped 40 points within 3 days.

There are many options to treating heart disease in cats, and dogs. After an accurate diagnosis is made, the appropriate use of medication – conventional plus/minus herbal – can go a long way to improving quality of life.

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