Rainy Day Blues: Keeping Your Cat Happy in Your Home

Is the rain getting you down? Are you going stir crazy being kept inside? Well, don’t let the rain get your feline friends down, too!  In fact, here are some ideas to keep your cat(s) happy and healthy on a daily basis:

Scratchers: We like to keep a nice variety of scratchers around the home.  Also make sure to vary the location they are kept in to keep your cat interested (and less destructive if scratching is a problem).  Tip: try sprinkling a bit of catnip on them for additional enrichment.

Cardboard CreationsAs you have probably discovered already, cats LOVE boxes.  Our cats are obsessed with boxes with string(s) attached (especially when we pull them around the home).  We like to call them their “Cat Cars” and yes, we often decorate them depending on the season. You can also make fun-themed cars such as the “Hotdog Stand” below (the kids would have a blast helping you with this project)!   Not only is it a fun craft activity to do, but the cats can either chase after the string (which helps to fulfill their hunting instincts), sit in the box, or they might completely ignore you if they’re not in the mood.  Also pictured is our lovely little Maxwell hiding inside of a concrete pouring tube from Home Depot.  They absolutely adore these tubes.  Plus, they’re pretty cheap and you can decorate them however you want!  We wrapped it with wrapping paper just to make it look a bit nicer. Tip: try varying the type of string and materials you use to provide different tactile experiences (e.g., rope, ribbon, pieces of cloth, etc), but make sure the material doesn’t come apart for your cat to ingest (which could cause a large number of potentially serious health issues).

Tubes & Cubes: Our cats are very happy when we put the tubes and cubes out.  They are relatively inexpensive, but they can be a bit pricey depending on where you go.  We purchased ours from Target and Amazon.  There are a lot of different styles of tubes and cubes out there, so the important thing is to find the best one for your cat(s)! Location is very important, so my recommendation is to play around and see where your feline friend(s) are most likely to use them (e.g., against a wall in a hallway, under the bed, behind the couch, etc). Tip: try connecting tubes together for even more fun!  Also, place toys in, on top, and around tubes/cubes so your cat(s) can get their hunting instincts fulfilled.

Toys, Toys, Toys: Make sure to provide your cat(s) with enough toys that they don’t get into trouble (either with people and/or furniture).  We have a special toy box where toys are stored and we make sure to rotate them on a daily basis to prevent boredom and aggression.  Try to provide a nice variety of textures, shapes, and sizes to help find out which toys are preferred and which toys you can donate to your local humane society (or friends with cats).  Tip: sprinkle some catnip onto the toys and/or purchase/make toys with catnip inside for enrichment!

Hopefully this list will help you and your cat(s) become better playmates when it’s raining outside.  However, I hope this also helps inspire you to provide activities and toys for your feline friend(s) to help reduce aggression, scratching, and other behavioral problems that may occur on a day-to-day basis.

Until next time, stay dry and have fun!

Ayriel, and the Ohana Animal Hospital team


Hendricks, the Rainbow Boa, has Surgery

Hendricks, a 17 year old Brazilian rainbow boa, was brought to Ohana Animal Hospital for evaluation of a painful left eye. His owner noticed that it appeared out of place, and thought that he was uncomfortable. After visiting with our veterinarian, Dr. Zach Steffes, it was determined that he needed his eye removed, and was scheduled for surgery the following day.

It is uncommon to need to remove an eye (enucleation) on a snake. Most snake eye problems will resolve over time if treated correctly, and given enough shed cycles to repair the spectacle (fused eyelids), which protects the eye. In this case the eye had been pushed out of the globe, and had actually ruptured, which made removal the best option to control pain and discomfort. There are many causes for this issue, but we strongly suspected a bacterial or fungal infection, cancer, or trauma.

Hendricks was started on antibiotics and pain injections the night before surgery, and then scheduled for the surgery the next day. Hendricks did great under anesthesia, and recovered with no problems. Our reptile patients are intubated and maintained on gas anesthesia, just like a dog or cat, which allows us to control their breathing while they are sleepy. Reptiles cannot breath on their own when they are anesthetized for surgery, so we need breath for them. They are provided heat support, pain medications, antibiotics, fluids to maintain blood pressure, and monitored closely by their own dedicated anesthetist while under anesthesia.


He will stay on antibiotics and pain medications while recovering from his surgery, and will need some extra attention while healing, but should be just fine. Hendricks should make a full recovery, and is very lucky to have such dedicated owners.

We wish you well Hendricks, and wish you a speedy recovery!!

Check out our Exotic Animal Surgery Services on our website: Exotic Animal Surgery and Dentistry

Hendricks Recovering from Surgery

Dr. Zach Steffes, and the Ohana Animal Hospital team



Hello from the Veterinarians!

Hello from Dr. Jennifer Hacker and Dr. Zachary Steffes!


We thought it was time for us to introduce ourselves! Dr. Steffes was born and raised in Minnesota, he moved to San Diego after his sophomore year in college to work at Sea World, and has been a California resident ever since. Dr. Hacker was born and raised in the Bay Area, and after 6 years of living and practicing in San Diego, is happy to be home again. We both are graduates of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Hacker and Dr. Steffes have been a team ever since graduation. We both began our careers in San Diego, where Dr. Steffes focused on exotic animal medicine, while Dr. Hacker focused on canine and feline medicine. We worked at separate practices until 2013, when we finally decided to team up in the same hospital. After three years at a very busy exotic and companion animal practice, we decided it was time for a new adventure.

Dr. Hacker and Dr. Steffes are very proud to introduce Ohana Animal Hospital. We are a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that sees companion and exotic animals in Livermore, California. It was very important for us to have all the newest equipment (ultrasound, endoscopy, digital x-ray, digital dental x-ray, radiosurgery, etc.), but it was also important to us to stay family oriented. It was so important to us that we named our hospital Ohana, which means family. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have different paths, but when you walk into the hospital you are Ohana, and we promise to treat you as such.

Our hospital is finally open, and we are incredibly excited. We invite all of you to stop in for a tour of the hospital if your pets are healthy, and we are open for appointments for anything else you may need. We see dogs, cats, reptiles (turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards), rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hedgehogs, rats, hamsters, and most other exotic animals. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and also follow our blog to see what is going on at the hospital. Both Dr. Hacker and Dr. Steffes, along with Ayriel Steffes will be posting often.

See you soon!!