Feline Diabetes Pet Health Terms  



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Also: Our FDMB Glossary


jet injector (in-JEK-tur):

a device that uses high pressure instead of a needle to propel insulin through the skin and into the body.



brand-name for a common brand of corn syrup. Often used to treat feline hypoglycemic episodes at home by rubbing on the cat's gums.


see diabetic ketoacidosis.


Process of creating ketones in the liver from fatty acids.


a chemical produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma. Sometimes referred to as ketone bodies.

ketonuria (key-toe-NUH-ree-ah):

a condition occurring when ketones are present in the urine, a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.

ketosis (ke-TOE-sis):

a ketone buildup in the body that may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. Signs of ketosis are nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Ketostix or Ketodiastix:

Brand name test strips used to check your cat's urine for ketones.


dry food.

kidney disease:

see nephropathy.

kidney failure:

a chronic condition in which the body retains fluid and harmful wastes build up because the kidneys no longer work properly. A cat with kidney failure needs careful monitoring and a special diet to slow the progression of this condition.  Also called chronic renal (REE-nul) failure or CRF.


the two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and form urine. The kidneys are located near the middle of the back. They send urine to the bladder.

kidney threshold:

the capacity of the kidney to retain substances such as glucose. Once reached the rest spill out into the urine stream. Glucose in diabetes will normally spill over at a BG around 280 although it can vary.

Kussmaul (KOOS-mall) breathing:

the rapid, deep, and labored breathing of cats who have diabetic ketoacidosis.




a sharp device used to prick the skin (ear, paw, or leg) with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose monitoring.

Lantis (LAN-tuhs) insulin:

A long acting insulin that does not have a peak activity.  A brand name is Aventis™.

LDL cholesterol (kuh-LESS-tuh-rawl),

stands for low-density lipoprotein (LIP-oh-PRO-teen) cholesterol:

a fat found in the blood that takes cholesterol around the body to where it is needed for cell repair and also deposits it on the inside of artery walls. Sometimes called "bad" cholesterol.

lente (LEN-tay) insulin:

an intermediate-acting insulin. On average, lente insulin starts to lower blood glucose levels within 1 to 2 hours after injection. It has its strongest effect 8 to 12 hours after injection but keeps working for 18 to 24 hours after injection. Also called L insulin.

Levemir (detemir) :

Ultra-slow acting insulin, available in Europe and planned introduction to US in 2005. See the Novo Nordisk web site for more information.

limited joint mobility:

a condition in which the joints swell and the skin of the hand becomes thick, tight, and waxy, making the joints less able to move. It may affect the fingers and arms as well as other joints in the body.

lipid (LIP-id):

a term for fat in the body. Lipids can be broken down by the body and used for energy.

lipid profile:

a blood test that measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is then calculated from the results. A lipid profile is one measure of a person's risk of cardiovascular disease.

lipoatrophy (LIP-oh-AT-ruh-fee):

loss of fat under the skin resulting in small dents. Lipoatrophy may be caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same spot.

lipodystrophy (LIP-oh-DIH-struh-fee):

defect in the breaking down or building up of fat below the surface of the skin, resulting in lumps or small dents in the skin surface. (See lipohypertrophy or lipoatrophy.) Lipodystrophy may be caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same spot.

lipohypertrophy (LIP-oh-hy-PER-truh-fee):

buildup of fat below the surface of the skin, causing lumps. Lipohypertrophy may be caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same spot.

lispro (LYZ-proh) insulin:

a rapid-acting insulin. On average, lispro insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 5 minutes after injection. It has its strongest effect 30 minutes to 1 hour after injection but keeps working for 3 hours after injection.


an organ in the body that changes food into energy, removes alcohol and poisons from the blood, and makes bile, a substance that breaks down fats and helps rid the body of wastes.

long-acting insulin:

a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 4 to 6 hours after injection and has its strongest effect 10 to 18 hours after injection. See ultralente insulin and lantis insulin.

low blood sugar:

see hypoglycemia.

low-density lipoprotein cholesterol:

see LDL cholesterol.



macrovascular (mack-roh-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

disease of the large blood vessels, such as those found in the heart. Lipids and blood clots build up in the large blood vessels and can cause atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

macula (MACK-yoo-la):

the part of the retina in the eye used for seeing fine detail.

macular (MACK-yoo-lur) edema (eh-DEE-mah):

swelling of the macula.

meglitinide (meh-GLIH-tin-ide):

a class of oral medicine for type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals. (Generic name: repaglinide.)

metabolic syndrome:

the tendency of several conditions to occur together, including obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes or pre-diabetes, hypertension, and high lipids.


the term for the way cells chemically change food so that it can be used to store or use energy and make the proteins, fats, and sugars needed by the body.

metformin (met-FOR-min):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and helping the body respond better to the insulin made in the pancreas. Belongs to the class of medicines called biguanides. (Brand names: Glucophage, Glucophage XR; an ingredient in Glucovance.)


a form of vitamin b12 that is sometimes used to treat diabetic neuropathy (rear leg weakness). Please talk to your veterinarian for the latest information.


milligrams (MILL-ih-grams) per deciliter (DESS-ih-lee-tur), a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In the United States, blood glucose test results are reported as mg/dL. Medical journals and other countries use millimoles per liter (mmol/L). To convert to mg/dL from mmol/L, multiply mmol/L by 18. Example: 10 mmol/L × 18 = 180 mg/dL.

microalbumin (MY-kro-al-BYOO-min):

small amounts of the protein called albumin in the urine detectable with a special lab test.

microaneurysm (MY-kro-AN-yeh-rizm):

a small swelling that forms on the side of tiny blood vessels. These small swellings may break and allow blood to leak into nearby tissue. People with diabetes may get microaneurysms in the retina of the eye.


see glyburide.

microvascular (MY-kro-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

disease of the smallest blood vessels, such as those found in the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The walls of the vessels become abnormally thick but weak. Then they bleed, leak protein, and slow the flow of blood to the cells.

miglitol (MIG-lih-tall):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It blocks the enzymes that digest starches in food. The result is a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. (Brand name: Glyset.)

mixed dose:

a combination of two types of insulin in one injection. Usually a rapid- or short-acting insulin is combined with a longer acting insulin (such as NPH insulin) to provide both short-term and long-term control of blood glucose levels.


millimoles per liter, a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In most of the world, except for the United States, blood glucose test results are reported as mmol/L. In the United States, milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is used. To convert to mmol/L from mg/dL, divide mg/dL by 18. Example: 180 mg/dL ÷ 18 = 10 mmol/L.


see blood glucose meter.

mononeuropathy (MAH-noh-ne-ROP-uh-thee):

neuropathy affecting a single nerve.

myocardial (my-oh-KAR-dee-ul) infarction (in-FARK-shun):

an interruption in the blood supply to the heart because of narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Also called a heart attack.





The lowest point on a BG curve, often considered the same as the peak insulin reading.

needle gauge:

Needle thinness is measured in gauge size. The higher the gauge, the thinner the needle.  Most diabetic syringes now have needles that are 29 g (gauge) or 30 g.

neovascularization (NEE-oh-VASK-yoo-ler-ih-ZAY-shun):

the growth of new, small blood vessels. In the retina, this may lead to loss of vision or blindness.

nephrologist (neh-FRAH-luh-jist):

a specially trained veterinarian who treats animals who have kidney problems.

nephropathy (neh-FROP-uh-thee):

disease of the kidneys. Hyperglycemia and hypertension can damage the kidneys' glomeruli. When the kidneys are damaged, protein leaks out of the kidneys into the urine. Damaged kidneys can no longer remove waste and extra fluids from the bloodstream.

nerve conduction studies:

tests used to measure for nerve damage; one way to diagnose neuropathy.

nerve disease:

see neuropathy.

neurologist (ne-RAH-luh-jist):

a veterinarian who specializes in problems of the nervous system, such as neuropathy.

neuropathy (ne-ROP-uh-thee):

disease of the nervous system. The three major forms in diabetes are peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects mainly the legs and feet.  Cats may walk on their hocks if they have neuropathy or may be unable to jump onto elevated surfaces.  Some people use methylcobalamin to treat neuropathy in their cats.


see noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM):

former term for type 2 diabetes.

noninvasive (NON-in-VAY-siv) blood glucose monitoring:

measuring blood glucose without pricking the finger to obtain a blood sample.

NPH insulin:

an intermediate-acting insulin; NPH stands for neutral protamine Hagedorn. On average, NPH insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 1 to 2 hours after injection. It has its strongest effect 6 to 10 hours after injection but keeps working about 10 hours after injection. Also called N insulin.




see oral glucose tolerance test.

ophthalmologist (AHF-thal-MAH-luh-jist):

a specially trained veterinarian who diagnoses and treats all eye diseases and eye disorders.

oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT):

a test to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. The oral glucose tolerance test is given by a health care professional after an overnight fast. A blood sample is taken, then the patient drinks a high-glucose beverage. Blood samples are taken at intervals for 2 to 3 hours. Test results are compared with a standard and show how the body uses glucose over time.

oral hypoglycemic (hy-po-gly-SEE-mik) agents:

medicines taken by mouth by people with type 2 diabetes to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Classes of oral hypoglycemic agents are alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, D-phenylalanine derivatives, meglitinides, sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones.


see tolbutamide.


an above-normal body weight; measured by a body mass index (BMI) determination.   See the educational portion of felinediabetes.com to learn how to measure your cat’s BMI.


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