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Veterinary Definitions and Resources

As I write about Athena’s FIP diagnosis and treatment, there are terms that don’t have plain language equivalents. So, I created this page to house explanations and definitions to avoid cluttering my posts any more than necessary.

NOTE: I’ve only included terms for which I can’t find easy links.

Terminology Definitions

Alanine Transaminase (ALT) is also important in the metabolism of nitrogen and is most often associated with the liver. High levels indicate liver damage, toxin ingestion, Cushing’s disease and various metabolic disorders. Low levels indicate starvation or malnutrition. | Source:

Albumin is the major protein found in the body. It carries various substances through the blood and is important in maintaining pressure within the vessels. High levels indicate dehydration. Low levels indicate chronic inflammation, liver disease, kidney disease, starvation and blood loss. | Source:

Cerenia (maropitant citrate) can be used as a mild form of pain relief. It is sometimes used in surgery, reducing the pain felt during manipulation of internal organs during procedures such as spaying, and hence reducing the amount of general anaesthetic agent needed (this is known as an “anaesthetic sparing effect”). | Source:

Chloride is responsible in part for metabolism (turning food into energy), and keeping the body’s acid base balanced. | Source: PetMD

Compounded animal drugs are typically made by pharmacists or veterinarians. Animal drug compounding is the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual animal or a small group of animals, and these drugs can play a critical role in veterinary medicine. | Source: FDA

Creatinine is a muscle enzyme that is excreted by the kidneys and builds up in the blood when kidney function decreases. It will increase with dehydration and decrease in very thin cats but your veterinarian will take these factors into account when staging your cat. | Source: Scottsdale Cat Clinic

Dorzolamide and Timolol are both prescribed to cats as eye drops. Timolol is in a class of medications called topical beta blockers which reduce intraocular pressure preventing damage to the optic nerve and the subsequent loss of vision. Dorzolamide is in a class of medications called topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors which reduce intraocular pressure similar to beta-blockers. Dorzolamide and timolol lower pressure in the eye by decreasing the production of natural fluids in the eye. | Sources:,, Topical Ophthalmic Beta Blockers: A Comparative Review.

The Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO) Blood Panel our local vet ran is through Idexx. While not much information is available about the panel, the submitted blood is checked for the following:

(Globulin is a class of protein.) There are many types of globulin, each of which has a specific function… Globulins play an important role in the body’s defense system; some are ‘first responders’, like firefighters, and appear in the blood stream quickly after any tissue injury. Others, called antibodies, are produced by lymphoid cells, a type of white blood cell, and appear in the blood stream more slowly following injury. Antibodies are essential to the body’s ability to defend against invading bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. | Source: VCA Animal Hospitals

A granuloma is a tiny cluster of white blood cells and other tissue that can be found in the lungs, head, skin or other parts of the body in some people. Granulomas are not cancerous. They form as a reaction to infections, inflammation, irritants or foreign objects. | Source: HealthDirect

Hematocrit (HCT) (also often called Packed Cell Volume, or PCV) is the most common way to measure anemia and refers to the percentage of blood volume that is taken up by red blood cells. The normal HCT for a cat is 25-45%, and any HCT below 25% is considered anemic. | Source: Cornell Feline Health Center

An immune mediated disease is a disease of unknown cause, but one which is thought to be modulated by an aberrant immune response. Unlike autoimmune diseases, the antibody causing this group of diseases has not been identified. [Basically, it’s an autoimmune disease without the scientific data to prove it.] | Source: The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center

Immunoflorescence staining is a method that uses a fluorescent dye to color antibodies that have bound to specific antigens, usually proteins or glycoproteins. | Source: Stanford Anatomic Pathology & Clinical Laboratories

Immunoperoxidase staining is a method that uses the enzyme peroxidase to cause a chemical reaction that colors antibodies that have bound to specific antigens, usually proteins or glycoproteins. | Source: Wikipedia

Lymphocytes are produced in lymph nodes throughout the body. They also help fight infection and produce antibodies against viruses, bacteria, etc. Lymphocytes may be increased with an infection, they can be decreased in cats that are severely stressed, and they might be lost in some types of diarrhea. | Source: Just Cats Clinic

Neutrophils help fight infections. They can be decreased with bone marrow disease, in some viral diseases, and in some cats receiving cancer chemotherapy drugs. Neutrophils are increased with inflammation or infection of any part of the body and in cats receiving prednisolone or other cortisone-type drugs. | Source: Just Cats Clinic

Reticulocyte hemoglobin content reflects the amount of iron available for hemoglobin production in the bone marrow. It is a useful parameter that can be confidently used in the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia. | Source: Clinical Significance of Reticulocyte Hemoglobin Content in the Diagnosis of Iron Deficiency Anemia by Mustafa Karagülle, Eren Gündüz, […], and Meltem Olga Akay

Sodium is involved in many critical bodily functions, including maintaining blood pressure, blood volume, maintain the delicate acid/base balance in the body, as well as play a role in the transmission of nerve impulses (signals) within nerves. | Source: PetMD

Total Protein (TP) is an important substance in all parts of the body. High levels indicate dehydration, inflammation, chronic infection and certain cancers. Low levels indicate intestinal absorption problems, liver disease, Addison’s disease, severe burns and losses through the kidneys. | Source:


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