If your cat suffers from heart disease or high blood pressure, your vet might prescribe enalapril to treat his condition. You might know people who take the drug for the same reasons. Unlike some other human medications that can be administered by vets "off-label," enalapril is approved for feline use.
Marketed under the brand name Enacard, enalapril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, better known as an ACE inhibitor. According to Dr. Barbara Forney, enalapril converts angiotensin I to angiotensin II, which causes blood pressure to decrease. It also dilates Kitty's blood vessels, helping his heart to work better.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, usually occurs because something else is wrong with Kitty, for example kidney disease, or disease of the endocrine system, such as Cushing's disease or hyperthyroidism. Cats with very high blood pressure can go blind, experience seizures, or suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF). The high volume of blood going through the heart and its need to pump harder cause thickening of the left ventricle, resulting in CHF. High blood pressure can lead to general organ failure. Enalapril can't cure high blood pressure, but it helps keep it under control.
Enalapril comes in tablet form. You might have to divide the pills up to give Kitty the correct dosage. Your vet determines the amount of the drug Kitty needs based on his weight, his health situation and the condition for which he's receiving treatment. She'll monitor Kitty's blood pressure and kidney levels to ensure he's receiving a proper and safe dosage. The average cat receives 0.25 mg of the drug, either once or twice daily.
While enalapril generally is well-tolerated, some cats might experience side effects when taking the drug. These include loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy and urinating a lot more. If Kitty's blood pressure becomes too low, he could become very weak. If Kitty exhibits any of these issues, contact your vet. Rarely, enalapril can lead to kidney failure. Tell your vet about any other medications or over-the-counter supplements Kitty receives, as enalapril may interact with other drugs, making side effects more likely. Enalapril shouldn't be given to pregnant or nursing cats, or those with liver or blood ailments.
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.