If your kitty is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, a supplement you might take yourself could help him. Although you can buy coenzyme Q10 over-the-counter at supermarkets and drug stores, don't give it to Kitty without veterinary approval. Ask your vet to recommend a brand.
If you ever wondered exactly what coenzyme Q10 means, here's the technical explanation as provided by Princeton University: "Q refers to the quinone chemical group, and 10 refers to the number of isoprenyl chemical subunits in its tail." A coenzyme is an organic molecule required by some enzymes to carry out a chemical reaction. Coenzyme Q10, often written with the 10 as a subscript, is also known as ubiquinone.
What It Does
Coenzyme Q10 occurs naturally in the body's cells; many organs require a large amount of the nutrient for proper functioning. You might find it included in over-the-counter supplements designated as "heart healthy." Coenzyme Q10 appears to enhance the efficacy of conventional cardiac medications. The Merck Veterinary Manual notes that coenzyme Q10 supplementation has resulted in "significant improvements" in humans diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, although the studies were relatively small. It's a relatively safe supplement, so even if it doesn't help Kitty it's unlikely to harm him. It might cause mild gastrointestinal upset.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common type of cardiomyopathy in felines, causes a thickening of the heart muscle, making the heart chambers smaller. As it progresses, less blood pumps throughout the body. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy typically affects middle-age male cats. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, before commercial cat food manufacturers began including taurine in foods in 1985, most cases of feline cardiomyopathy were related to taurine deficiency. Back then, administering taurine was part of treatment, but that's usually not necessary today. Conventional medications for feline cardiomyopathy treatment include angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and digitalis. In addition to coenzyme Q10, your vet might suggest supplementation with fish oil.
Often, cats with cardiomyopathy display no symptoms until the disease is quite far along. A blood clot, or thrombosis causing paralysis of the hind legs, is often the first sign. If your cat becomes lethargic, has trouble breathing, loses weight or appears to have a diminished appetite, take him to the vet for an examination.
Coenzyme Q10 helps your cat's body in other ways besides heart health. Regular coenzyme Q10 supplementation can aid in preventing periodontal disease as well as boost Kitty's immune system. Cats diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy might also benefit from coenzyme Q10 administration. If your older cat appears to be getting senile, ask your vet about giving him coenzyme Q10 for his apparent dementia. Your vet can recommend the correct dosage for your cat.
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Cardiomyopathies
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Heart Disease in Cats
- Animal Wellness: Cardiomyopathy - Helping Heart Disease With Alternative Therapies
- Manor Vets: Coenzyme Q-10
- Veterinary Partner: Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- American Association of Family Physicians: Coenzyme Q10
- City University of New York: Coenzymes and Cofactors
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.