Q: In the past week, my two cats have started to sneeze and have runny eyes. They both are eating OK but look like they feel bad. My husband and I have both had colds recently and I wonder if my cats were able to catch our colds. Is this possible? They are both indoor/outdoor cats and have always been very healthy. What should I do to treat them?
Mrs. John Sharpe, Garden Grove
A: It is extremely unlikely that your cats got their colds from you because most cold viruses tend to be species specific. However, cats do occasionally have an organism called chlamydia psittaci, which causes runny eyes and sneezing and could be spread to humans. In man, if the organism comes into contact with your eyes, it can cause a burning, watery eye irritation. I would recommend that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling your sneezing cats and try not to let them sneeze into your face. Fortunately, the eye infection is treatable with antibiotics.
You should have your cats examined by your veterinarian to help determine what type of infection they may have. It would also be wise to update your cat's vaccinations, especially for chlamydia. Your vet will most likely start your cats on antibiotics and eye medication to help ease their symptoms and discomfort.