Feline Diabetes Pet Health Terms  



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Also: Our FDMB Glossary


pancreas (PAN-kree-us):

an organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach.


Inflammation of the pancreas, acute or chronic.


the time period when the insulin is strongest causing the blood glucose (BG) level to be lowest. The peak time will vary depending on the individual cat and the type of insulin used.

periodontal (PER-ee-oh-DON-tul) disease:

disease of the gums.

peripheral (puh-RIF-uh-rul) neuropathy (ne-ROP-uh-thee):

nerve damage that affects the feet, legs, or hands. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling.

peripheral (puh-RIF-uh-rul) vascular (VAS-kyoo-ler) disease (PVD):

a disease of the large blood vessels of the arms, legs, and feet. PVD may occur when major blood vessels in these areas are blocked and do not receive enough blood. The signs of PVD are aching pains and slow-healing leg sores.

peritoneal dialysis:

see dialysis.

photocoagulation (FOH-toh-koh-ag-yoo-LAY-shun):

a treatment for diabetic retinopathy. A strong beam of light (laser) is used to seal off bleeding blood vessels in the eye and to burn away extra blood vessels that should not have grown there.

pioglitazone (py-oh-GLIT-uh-zone):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It helps insulin take glucose from the blood into the cells for energy by making cells more sensitive to insulin. Belongs to the class of medicines called thiazolidinediones. (Brand name: Actos.)

polydipsia (pah-lee-DIP-see-uh):

excessive thirst; may be a sign of diabetes. Abbreviated as PD. Usually accompanied by polyuria.

polyphagia (pah-lee-FAY-jee-ah):

excessive hunger; may be a sign of diabetes.

polyuria (pah-lee-YOOR-ee-ah):

excessive urination; may be a sign of diabetes or uncontrolled blood glucose levels. Abbreviated as PU. Usually accompanied by polydipsia.


After a meal. 

postprandial (post-PRAN-dee-ul) blood glucose:

the blood glucose level  taken 1 to 2 hours after eating.

premixed insulin:

a commercially produced combination of two different types of insulin. See 50/50 insulin and 70/30 insulin.

preprandial (pree-PRAN-dee-ul) blood glucose:

the blood glucose level taken before eating.


the number of cats in a given group or population who are reported to have a disease.

proinsulin (proh-IN-suh-lin):

the substance made first in the pancreas and then broken into several pieces to become insulin.

proliferative (pro-LIH-fur-ah-tiv) retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee):

a condition in which fragile new blood vessels grow along the retina and in the vitreous humor of the eye.

protein (PRO-teen):

1. One of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide protein include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, dairy products, eggs, and dried beans. 2. Proteins are also used in the body for cell structure, hormones such as insulin, and other functions.

proteinuria (PRO-tee-NOOR-ee-uh):

the presence of protein in the urine, indicating that the kidneys are not working properly.

Purina DM:

high protein diet cat food for diabetic cats available from veterinarians.


Protamine Zinc Insulin. PZI is a long acting beef insulin that is frequently used in diabetic cats. [Insulin Education Page]



rapid-acting insulin:

a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 5 to 10 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 30 minutes to 3 hours after injection, depending on the type used. See aspart insulin and lispro insulin.

rebound hyperglycemia (HY-per-gly-SEE-mee-ah):

a swing to a high level of glucose in the blood after a low level. See Somogyi effect. [Somogyi Education Page]


see insulin receptors.

regular insulin:

See also short-acting insulin. On average, regular insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 30 minutes after injection. It has its strongest effect 2 to 5 hours after injection but keeps working 5 to 8 hours after injection. Also called R insulin.

regulatory duration:

The time spent in the target blood glucose area (typically 100-300 mg/dl in a cat).

renal (REE-nal):

having to do with the kidneys. A renal disease is a disease of the kidneys. Renal failure means the kidneys have stopped working.

renal threshold (THRESH-hold) of glucose:

the blood glucose concentration at which the kidneys start to excrete glucose into the urine.

repaglinide (reh-PAG-lih-nide):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called meglitinides. (Brand name: Prandin.)

retina (REH-ti-nuh):

the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.


see background retinopathy, proliferative retinopathy, and diabetic retinopathy.

rosiglitazone (rose-ee-GLIH-tuh-zone):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It helps insulin take glucose from the blood into the cells for energy by making cells more sensitive to insulin. Belongs to the class of medicines called thiazolidinediones. (Brand name: Avandia.)



secondary diabetes:

a type of diabetes caused by another disease or certain drugs or chemicals.


in diabetes, the ongoing process of managing diabetes. Includes meal planning, planned physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, taking diabetes medicines, handling episodes of illness and of low and high blood glucose, managing diabetes when traveling, and more. The caretaker with a cat with diabetes designs his or her own management treatment plan in consultation with a veterinarian.

70/30 insulin:

premixed insulin that is 70 percent intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin and 30 percent short-acting (regular) insulin.

sharps container:

a container for disposal of used needles and syringes; often made of hard plastic so that needles cannot poke through.


To inject a medication, such as insulin, with a syringe.

short-acting insulin:

a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 30 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 2 to 5 hours after injection. See regular insulin.


abbreviation for Start Low, Go Slow. This term is used to refer to the method of treating feline diabetes where insulin is started at a low dose (1-2 U or less per day) and the dose slowly increased to bring the cat's diabetes under regulation.

sliding scale:

a set of instructions for adjusting insulin on the basis of blood glucose test results, meals, or activity levels.

soluble fiber:

plant substance used to slow the digestive process. Dissolves in water.

Somogyi (suh-MOH-jee) effect,

also called rebound hyperglycemia:

when the blood glucose level swings high following hypoglycemia. The Somogyi effect may follow an untreated hypoglycemic episode during the night and is caused by the release of stress hormones that will raise the blood glucose.  The rebound can last up to 72 hours.  A typical treatment is to decrease the insulin dosage by about 25%.  Consult your veterinarian if you suspect this phenomenon. [Somogyi Education Page]

sorbitol (SORE-bih-tall):

1.   A sugar alcohol (sweetener) with 4 calories per gram. 2. A substance produced by the body in people with diabetes that can cause damage to the eyes and nerves.

split mixed dose:

division of a prescribed daily dose of insulin into two or more injections given over the course of the day.


another name for carbohydrate, one of the three main nutrients in food.

subcutaneous (sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us) injection:

putting a fluid into the tissue under the skin with a needle and syringe.

subcutaneous fluids (Sub-Q, SQ):

These are balanced fluids in an I.V. bag (Lactated Ringers Solution, etc.) and administered in varying amounts by inserting a needle under the cat’s skin.  Veterinarians may teach caretakers how to give SQ fluids at home for dehydrated cats or cats with renal failure .


a two-part sugar made of glucose and fructose. Known as table sugar or white sugar, it is found naturally in sugar cane and in beets.


1. A class of carbohydrates with a sweet taste; includes glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
2. A term used to refer to blood glucose, ie "blood sugar levels" instead of "blood glucose levels".

sugar alcohols:

sweeteners that produce a smaller rise in blood glucose than other carbohydrates. Their calorie content is about 2 calories per gram. Includes erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. Also known as polyols (PAH-lee-alls.)

sugar diabetes:

former term for diabetes mellitus.

sulfonylurea (sul-fuh-NIL-yur-ee-uh):

Sulfonylurea antidiabetic agents (also known as sulfonylureas) are used to treat a certain type of diabetes mellitus called non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM). In NIDDM, insulin is still being produced by the pancreas. Sometimes the amount of insulin produced may not be enough or the cat’s body may not be using the insulin properly. Sulfonylureas work by causing the pancreas to release more insulin into the blood stream. Sometimes insulin that is being produced is not able to help sugar get inside the body's cells. Sulfonylureas help insulin get into the cells where it can work properly to lower blood sugar.

syndrome x:

see insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

syringe (suh-RINJ):

a device used to inject medications or other liquids into body tissues. The syringe for insulin has a hollow plastic tube with a plunger inside and a needle on the end.



tight control:

see intensive therapy.


see tolazamide.

triglyceride (try-GLISS-er-ide):

the storage form of fat in the body. High triglyceride levels may occur when diabetes is out of control.

type 1 diabetes:

a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a total lack of insulin. Occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.

type 2 diabetes:

a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.


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