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J Vet Intern Med. 2002 Mar-Apr;16(2):123-32.

Acute stress hyperglycemia in cats is associated with struggling and increased concentrations of lactate and norepinephrine.

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The School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.


We characterized the changes in blood glucose concentrations in healthy cats exposed to a short stressor and determined the associations between glucose concentrations, behavioral indicators of stress, and blood variables implicated in stress hyperglycemia (plasma glucose, lactate, insulin, glucagon, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine concentrations). Twenty healthy adult cats with normal glucose tolerance had a 5-minute spray bath. Struggling and vocalization were the most frequent behavioral responses. There was a strong relationship between struggling and concentrations of glucose and lactate. Glucose and lactate concentrations increased rapidly and significantly in all cats in response to bathing, with peak concentrations occurring at the end of the bath (glucose baseline 83 mg/dL, mean peak 162 mg/dL; lactate baseline 6.3 mg/dL, mean peak 64.0 mg/dL). Glucose response resolved within 90 minutes in 12 of the 20 cats. Changes in mean glucose concentrations were strongly correlated with changes in mean lactate (r = .84; P < .001) and mean norepinephrine concentrations (r = .81; P < .001). There was no significant correlation between changes in mean glucose concentrations and changes in mean insulin, glucagon, cortisol, or epinephrine concentrations. Struggling and lactate concentrations were predictive of hyperglycemia. Gluconeogenesis stimulated by lactate release is the likely mechanism for hyperglycemia in healthy cats in this model of acute stress. Careful handling techniques that minimize struggling associated with blood collection may reduce the incidence of stress hyperglycemia in cats.

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