Feline Diabetes Pet Health Terms   Health Logo



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See the FDMB Glossary for definitions of all those pesky abbreviations used on the FDMB.



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a test that measures a cat's average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin (HEE-mo-glo-bin) is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells and sometimes joins with the glucose in the bloodstream. Also called hemoglobin A1C or glycosylated (gly-KOH-sih-lay-ted) hemoglobin, the test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood. Glycosolated hemoglobin (A1c) at a normal level for cats (<3.0 or <0.8%) reflects glycemic control over the previous 70 days in cats.


describes something that happens suddenly and for a short time. Opposite of chronic.

adipose tissue:

fat tissue


stands for advanced glycosylation (gly-KOH-sih-LAY-shun) endproducts. AGEs are produced in the body when glucose links with protein. They play a role in damaging blood vessels, which can lead to diabetes complications.

albuminuria (al-BYOO-mih-NOO-ree-uh):

a condition in which the urine has more than normal amounts of a protein called albumin. Albuminuria may be a sign of nephropathy (kidney disease).

alpha (AL-fa) cell:

a type of cell in the pancreas. Alpha cells make and release a hormone called glucagon. The body sends a signal to the alpha cells to make glucagon when blood glucose falls too low. Then glucagon reaches the liver where it tells it to release glucose into the blood for energy.

alpha-glucosidase (AL-fa-gloo-KOH-sih-days) inhibitor:

a class of oral medicine for type 2 diabetes that blocks enzymes that digest starches in food. The result is a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. (Generic names: acarbose and miglitol.)

amylin (AM-ih-lin):

a hormone formed by beta cells in the pancreas. Amylin regulates the timing of glucose release into the bloodstream after eating by slowing the emptying of the stomach.

amyloid (a-muh-LOID):

a waxy translucent substance consisting of protein in combination with polysaccharides that is deposited in some animal organs and tissues under abnormal conditions

amyloidosis (a-muh-LOI-doh-sus):

a disorder characterized by the deposition of amyloid in bodily organs and tissues

amyotrophy (a-my-AH-truh-fee):

a type of neuropathy resulting in pain, weakness, and/or wasting in the muscles.

anemia (uh-NEE-mee-uh):

a condition in which the number of red blood cells is less than normal, resulting in less oxygen being carried to the body's cells.

angiopathy (an-gee-AH-puh-thee):

any disease of the blood vessels (veins, arteries, capillaries) or lymphatic vessels.

anorexia (an-uh-REX-ee-uh):

a loss of appetite

antibodies (AN-ti-bod-eez):

proteins made by the body to protect itself from "foreign" substances such as bacteria or viruses. People get type 1 diabetes when their bodies make antibodies that destroy the body's own insulin-making beta cells.

arteriosclerosis (ar-TEER-ee-oh-skluh-RO-sis):

hardening of the arteries.


a large blood vessel that carries blood with oxygen from the heart to all parts of the body.

aspart (ASS-part) insulin:

a rapid-acting insulin. On average, aspart insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 10 to 20 minutes after injection. It has its strongest effect 1 to 3 hours after injection but keeps working for 3 to 5 hours after injection.

atherosclerosis (ATH-uh-row-skluh-RO-sis):

clogging, narrowing, and hardening of the body's large arteries and medium-sized blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can lead to stroke, heart attack, eye problems, and kidney problems.

autoimmune (AW-toh-ih-MYOON) disease:

disorder of the body's immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.

autonomic (aw-toh-NOM-ik) neuropathy (ne-ROP-uh-thee):

a type of neuropathy affecting the lungs, heart, stomach, intestines, bladder, or genitals.



background retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee):

a type of damage to the retina of the eye marked by bleeding, fluid accumulation, and abnormal dilation of the blood vessels. Background retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Also called simple or nonproliferative (non-pro-LIF-er-uh-tiv) retinopathy.

basal rate:

a steady trickle of low levels of longer-acting insulin, such as that used in insulin pumps.

beta cell:

a cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas.

BG: see blood glucose.

biguanide (by-GWAH-nide):

a class of oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and by helping the body respond better to insulin. (Generic name: metformin.)

blood glucose:

the main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.

blood glucose level:

the amount of glucose in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams in a deciliter, or mg/dL. Normal blood glucose for a cat is between 70-120. For diabetic cats, the preferred range is between 100 (at peak) and 300.

blood glucose meter:

a small, portable machine used by people with diabetic cats to check the cat's blood glucose levels. After pricking the skin (usually in the ear or leg) with a lancet, one places a drop of blood on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) soon displays the blood glucose level as a number on the meter's digital display.

blood glucose monitoring:

checking blood glucose level on a regular basis in order to manage diabetes. A blood glucose meter (or blood glucose test strips that change color when touched by a blood sample) is needed for frequent blood glucose monitoring.

blood pressure:

the force of blood exerted on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure is expressed as a ratio (example: 120/80, read as "120 over 80"). The first number is the systolic (sis-TAH-lik) pressure, or the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. The second number is the diastolic (DY-uh-STAH-lik) pressure, or the pressure when the heart rests.

blood sugar:

see blood glucose.

blood sugar level:

see blood glucose level.

blood urea (yoo-REE-uh) nitrogen (NY-truh-jen) (BUN):

a waste product in the blood from the breakdown of protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney (renal) function decreases, the BUN levels increase. Often seen abbreviated as BUN and frequently reported with "creatinine," another measure of kidney function.

blood vessels:

tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries.


see body mass index.

body mass index (BMI):

a measure used to evaluate body weight relative to a person's height. BMI is used to find out if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

bolus (BOH-lus):

an extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood glucose, often related to a meal or snack.

borderline diabetes:

a former term for type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

brittle diabetes:

a term used when a cat's blood glucose level moves often from low to high and from high to low.


see blood urea nitrogen.




a unit representing the energy provided by food. Carbohydrate, protein, fat, and alcohol provide calories in the diet. Carbohydrate and protein have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.

capillary (KAP-ih-lair-ee):

the smallest of the body's blood vessels. Oxygen and glucose pass through capillary walls and enter the cells. Waste products such as carbon dioxide pass back from the cells into the blood through capillaries.

capsaicin (kap-SAY-ih-sin):

an ingredient in hot peppers that can be found in ointment form for use on the skin to relieve pain from diabetic neuropathy.

carbohydrate (kar-boh-HY-drate):

one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrate are starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and sugars. Many cat foods contain high amounts of carbohydrates at the expense of protein.

cardiologist (kar-dee-AH-luh-jist):

a doctor who treats people who have heart problems.

cardiovascular (KAR-dee-oh-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

disease of the heart and blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries).

cataract (KA-ter-act):

clouding of the lens of the eye.

cc (see-see):

Cubic centimeter. Same as milliliter or ml. Medication doseages and sbcutaneous fluid amounts are often measured in cc or ml.

cerebrovascular (seh-REE-broh-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

damage to blood vessels in the brain. Vessels can burst and bleed or become clogged with fatty deposits. When blood flow is interrupted, brain cells die or are damaged, resulting in a stroke.

Charcot's (shar-KOHZ) foot:

a condition in which the joints and soft tissue in the foot are destroyed it results from damage to the nerves.

cheiroarthropathy (KY-roh-ar-THRAHP-uh-thee):

see limited joint mobility.

cheiropathy (ky-RAH-puh-thee): see limited joint mobility.

chlorpropamide (klor-PROH-pah-mide):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose levels by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. Belongs to the class of medicines called sulfonylureas. (Brand name: Diabinese.)

cholesterol (koh-LES-ter-all):

a type of fat produced by the liver and found in the blood; it is also found in some foods. Cholesterol is used by the body to make hormones and build cell walls.


describes something that is long-lasting. Opposite of acute.

chronic renal failure (CRF):

persistent, usually worsening over time, failure of kidney function. A common cause of death in cats over six years of age.


the flow of blood through the body's blood vessels and heart.


a sleep-like state in which a cat is not conscious. May be caused by hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) in cats with diabetes.

combination oral medicines:

a pill that includes two or more different medicines. See Glucovance.

combination therapy:

the use of different medicines together (oral hypoglycemic agents or an oral hypoglycemic agent and insulin) to manage the blood glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes.


harmful effects of diabetes such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Studies in people with diabetes show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems.

congenital (kun-JEN-ih-tul) defects: problems or conditions that are present at birth.

congestive heart failure:

loss of the heart's pumping power, which causes fluids to collect in the body, especially in the feet and lungs.

conventional therapy:

a term used in clinical trials where one group receives treatment for diabetes in which A1C and blood glucose levels are kept at levels based on current practice guidelines. However, the goal is not to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, as is done in intensive therapy. Conventional therapy includes use of medication, meal planning, and exercise, along with regular visits to health care providers.

coronary artery disease: see coronary heart disease.

coronary (KOR-uh-ner-ee) heart disease:

heart disease caused by narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. If the blood supply is cut off the result is a heart attack.

C-peptide (see-peptide):

"Connecting peptide," a substance the pancreas releases into the bloodstream in equal amounts to insulin. A test of C-peptide levels shows how much insulin the body is making.

creatinine (kree-AT-ih-nin):

a waste product from protein in the diet and from the muscles of the body. Creatinine is removed from the body by the kidneys; as kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.

CRF: see chronic renal failure.


a blood glucose curve. A curve is done to determine a cat's reaction to the insulin dosage. A blood glucose (BG) test is generally taken every 2 hours for a 12-hour period. The curve can also be a full 24-hour curve or a mini curve. [Cat Blood Glucose Curves Education]

Cushing's Disease:

also known as Feline hyperadrenocorticism. An uncommon hormonal disease caused by disorders of the pituitary gland. Most cats with Cushing's Disease also have diabetes mellitus.



dawn phenomenon (feh-NAH-meh-nun):

the early-morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) rise in blood glucose level.

dehydration (dee-hy-DRAY-shun):

the loss of too much body fluid through frequent urinating, sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting.

dermopathy (dur-MAH-puh-thee):

disease of the skin.

desensitization (dee-sens-ih-tiz-A-shun):

a way to reduce or stop a response such as an allergic reaction to something. For example, if someone has an allergic reaction to something, the doctor gives the person a very small amount of the substance at first to increase one's tolerance. Over a period of time, larger doses are given until the person is taking the full dose. This is one way to help the body get used to the full dose and to prevent the allergic reaction.

dextrose (DECKS-trohss), also called glucose:

simple sugar found in blood that serves as the body's main source of energy.


see diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes,

diabetes insipidus (in-SIP-ih-dus):

a condition characterized by frequent and heavy urination, excessive thirst, and an overall feeling of weakness. This condition may be caused by a defect in the pituitary gland or in the kidney. In diabetes insipidus, blood glucose levels are normal.

diabetes mellitus (MELL-ih-tus):

a condition characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from the body's inability to use blood glucose for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.

diabetic diarrhea (dy-uh-REE-uh):

loose stools, fecal incontinence, or both that result from an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and diabetic neuropathy in the intestines. This nerve damage can also result in constipation.

diabetic eye disease:

see diabetic retinopathy.

diabetic ketoacidosis (KEY-toe-ass-ih-DOH-sis) (DKA):

an emergency condition in which extremely high blood glucose levels, along with a severe lack of insulin, result in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death.

diabetic myelopathy (my-eh-LAH-puh-thee):

damage to the spinal cord found in some diabetics.

diabetic nephropathy: see nephropathy.

diabetic neuropathy:

see neuropathy.

diabetic retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee):

diabetic eye disease; damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. Loss of vision may result.

diabetogenic (DY-uh-beh-toh-JEN-ic):

causing diabetes. For example, some drugs cause blood glucose levels to rise, resulting in diabetes.

diabetologist (DY-uh-beh-TAH-luh-jist):

a doctor who specializes in treating people who have diabetes.

diagnosis (DY-ug-NO-sis):

the determination of a disease from its signs and symptoms.

dialysis (dy-AL-ih-sis):

the process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially. This job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

1. hemodialysis (HE-mo-dy-AL-ih-sis): the use of a machine to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed. The blood travels through tubes to a dialyzer (DY-uh-LY-zur), a machine that removes wastes and extra fluid. The cleaned blood then goes back into the body.

2. peritoneal (PEH-rih-tuh-NEE-ul) dialysis: cleaning the blood by using the lining of the abdomen as a filter. A cleansing solution called dialysate (dy-AL-ih-sate) is infused from a bag into the abdomen. Fluids and wastes flow through the lining of the belly and remain "trapped" in the dialysate. The dialysate is then drained from the belly, removing the extra fluids and wastes from the body.


see diabetic ketoacidosis.



edema (eh-DEE-muh):

swelling caused by excess fluid in the body.

electromyography (ee-LEK-troh-my-AH-gruh-fee) (EMG):

a test used to detect nerve function. It measures the electrical activity generated by muscles.


see electromyography.

endocrine (EN-doh-krin) gland:

a group of specialized cells that release hormones into the blood. For example, the islets in the pancreas, which secrete insulin, are endocrine glands.

endocrinologist (EN-doh-krih-NAH-luh-jist):

a specially trained veterinarian who treats animals who have endocrine gland problems such as diabetes.

end-stage renal disease (ESRD):

see kidney failure.

enzyme (EN-zime):

protein made by the body that brings about a chemical reaction, for example, the enzymes produced by the gut to aid digestion.

essential fatty acid (EFA):

fat necessary for proper metabolism. EFA help to burn body fat (adipose tissue) and they help build muscle.

endogenous: (en-DAH-juh-nuhs)

Used or made within the body. Insulin is an endogenous hormone.

euglycemia (you-gly-SEEM-ee-uh):

a normal level of glucose in the blood.

exogenous (ek-SAH-juh-nuhs) :

Introduced from outside the body or synthesized outside the organism. Injected insulin is an exogenous product.


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