Update: Things You Might Not Know About Cat Nutrition

As mentioned in my previous post, just to refresh you, Dexter was doing well on a high quality dry food until I switched him to another dry food that proclaimed to be even better, although he became ill every time he would eat it. By looking into why this particular brand might’ve made him ill,  I realized that dry food isn’t at all the correct food for cats. I became aware of this back in November and made the decision to switch Dexter from dry food to grain-free wet food.

It has been 6 months and Dexter is doing very well. He maintained his weight, his coat is still plush,  and he does not get sick after eating. Although yesterday he seemed a bit sensitive to the heat. He doesn’t eat a lot in one sitting and generally leaves a bit of food in his dish to dry out. While most agree that wet food can be left out for a cat for up to 12 hours, I think I will be much more conservative, especially during the warmer months. Instead of the twice per day feedings, he will be getting smaller portions 3 times per day. I think this will help him to eat fresher food at an even pace throughout the day, which may help his sensitivities in warmer weather. I must say that this might not be an issue if he didn’t insist on laying in sun in an un-air-conditioned room. I suspect I will end up turning the air on in a room occupied only by a stubborn cat. Argh!

I hope this update finds you and your cat well!  Also, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read my November post to get the full scoop.


The content in this post is written by a lay person with no veterinary training. The post is not intended to replace professional advice from your own veterinarian and nothing in this post is intended as a medical diagnosis or treatment. Any questions about your animal’s health should be directed to a professional animal health care provider.


All there is to say about a massacre

“It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?”
— Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five)

Some Encouraging Words…

A quick post with some encouraging words…

Seth Godin: Making Change Happen Cards. You can find these as well as others for purchase, but these are some of my favorites…

Photo Blog


While I will still be posting plenty of photos on Positive Charge, I am starting up a blog just for the photos. The new blog is @ jenniferbenick.wordpress.com. It should help streamline things a bit better as it seems entering several galleries into a blog along with the regular posts gets a little crazy and confusing to people who are trying to locate the photos. I’ll slowly shift some of my photos over there in addition to showing them here. Hopefully, this helps to organize things a bit. I rarely photograph anything that isn’t positive, so you can safely view the photos on either site. However, Positive Charge will include more candid photos as well as the ones I sweat over. Thanks!

Things You Might Not Know About Cat Nutrition

Since 2003, my best buddy has been my cat, Dexter. From the start of our friendship, I was determined to do everything I could to care for him. I don’t mean just the basics like: food, water, shelter, litter box. I want him to be a happy cat. I buy him his favorite toys (as long as they’re safe), I buy him the best food, I take him to the vet if he’s sick, and he even has his own room with a futon near the window. I suspect by his affection, that he is indeed a happy cat. I have felt that I’ve been doing right by him for all of these years and am sad that I have not, despite how healthy and good he seems.

When my husband and I first adopted Dexter, we immediately sought out the best food for him. Based on what we read in a book we had purchased, we were in search of one without animal by-products. We knew that we were not going to find one at the grocery store and instead headed to a pet store just out-of-town. After reading the ingredients on several bags of food, we made what we thought was a good choice for Dex. For about 5 years, he did really well with the food. Not too many hairballs, rarely threw up, his skin and fur was in great condition and anyone who came over and would pet him would be amazed at how plush his fur was for a short-haired cat.

After the 5-year run with that brand, the store we’d been buying his food from stopped carrying it because it was no longer going to be a pet store specialty food and was going to be sold in grocery stores. So, they started carrying a brand that seemed to be even better. I bought a small bag and took it home hoping Dex would like it since I didn’t have the chance to transition him from the old brand. Luckily for me, he really liked it and did well with it. His skin and coat was just as nice and he did not have any problems with digestion and has been eating that food for 2 years or so until recently.

For the past year, I’ve been coming across ads for a brand of cat and dog food that seems to be the best quality. It has meat as the first ingredient, has no by-products, has blueberries, and seems to be the obvious choice. While I want to give Dex the best of everything, I was a bit hesitant to change his food because of how well he’s been doing. Recently, I’d started seeing commercials for this new food and since my husband and I eat a healthy, balanced, organic diet, this brand sealed the deal when they say to ‘feed your cat with the same care you’d feed a family member.’

I’m not much for gimmicks and it irritates me that I fell for this one. I did purchase said cat food. Dex ate the food for about 8 weeks, except for the blueberries that were always in the bottom of an otherwise empty bowl or scattered  on the floor around the bowl. Cute. But what was not cute and was very upsetting was that he started to throw up every time he ate. I thought at first he was sick and was about to make an appointment at the vet’s office. But the last few times he threw up, it looked like a puffed up version of the food in his dish. I knew I had to change his food, once again.

I first looked online to see if anyone else has had a problem with their cat throwing up this particular food and found quite a few reviews similar to mine. While I’m not sure what it was about the food in particular that made the cat sick, through some searching around, I realized that I’d been duped. My husband and I eat well. We wanted our cat to eat well. Well, guess what. Humans and cats eat well in their own way.

There is big market for holistic ‘natural’ cat (and dog) food. Earthy bags with labels  touting, ‘whole grain’  and ‘meat is the first ingredient.’ It’s good that meat is the first ingredient. Do you know why? Cats are carnivores and are made to eat meat. Their bodies don’t do well on carbohydrates. They are not made for it. Did you notice that when you buy cat food at a pet store, the same brands that have food that says ‘wholesome whole grains’ also have food that says, ‘grain-free’ on the label? How could they believe that whole grains are a selling point and that food without them is a selling point? Apparently the former is for people who believe that cats eat the same as humans and the latter is for people who have done their homework.

Aside from the whole grain/grain-free debate, I’ve also learned that dry food is not a good idea altogether. It does not matter what the first ingredient is.  A lot of cats like it, and a lot of  kids tend to like junk food, too. But it’s not good for them. Not even a little bit. Kibble is junk food for cats. There are many reasons why. It lacks moisture, it has ingredients that cats do not need or digest properly, it contains a large amount of the wrong kind of protein (plant protein). Cats need a specific ratio of moisture, protein, and carbohydrate. Dry food does not do a good job of adhering to this and allegedly leads to renal failure and other common health problems. I also need to point out that plenty of wet cat food contains grain. Grain-free wet food is apparently best.

I have been feeding Dexter a high-quality wet grain-free cat food for the past week. Most cats, from what I’ve been reading, need to transition from their dry food before they will exclusive eat the wet food. Dex has actually been loving his new wet food. I occasionally give him a small amount of his dry food because he has a hard time with the fact that there are feeding times instead of just having dry food around the clock. He is only an 8 pound cat, but just likes having the food always available. He is a grazer and the hardest part in his transition to wet food is that he’ll sometimes leave some of it in his dish that he will finish a couple of hours later. I just don’t like that it gets dried out and weird.  So, sometimes I’ll toss it out and give him a small portion of dry food. This routine will end shortly, as he is starting to warm up to the idea of feeding times.

The purpose of this post is to inform people who love their cats on my recent findings. I am clearly not an expert on cat nutrition, but have found that people who should be seem to be making cat food that is in their own best interest ($) instead of what is best for the health of cats. A good source of reference is catinfo.org. This is a site that does not promote a certain brand. It is just information. They actually feel that making your cat’s food is best, if done properly, but realize that this is not a reality for most of us. There are other sites with good information as well. This one seems to at least touch on most points, however it does go into great depth and pours over the minutiae of some aspects of cat nutrition.

Cats rely on their people parents to feed them what they need.  It’s up to you to do a little research and find out what that is. It’s your responsibility and your cat deserves it. While the food my cat has been eating all of these years is good for dry food, I feel terrible that he wasn’t getting the proper balance of what he really needs. He has been eating the equivalent of cereal for cats. After all, fortified, processed, organic cereal isn’t the best that I can give myself either. Think about it.



The content in this post is written by a lay person with no veterinary training. The post is not intended to replace professional advice from your own veterinarian and nothing in this post is intended as a medical diagnosis or treatment. Any questions about your animal’s health should be directed to a professional animal health care provider.


Morning Sail

Pen to Paper

When I’m writing a blog post, I find myself typing and deleting and typing……then deleting. I’ll do this several times. My husband writes a blog as well and does the same thing. It’s not that we’re terrible writers/bloggers. I’m sure you find yourself doing the same thing from time to time.

The problem is, it’s too easy to type something without having to commit to it even the tiniest bit. It’s too easy to type bad or boring ideas because you can make them go away in a second, without scribbling and even wasting a sheet of paper, as soon as you come up with something mediocre instead.

As I’d stated in an earlier post, I’m in between laptops right now and have limited access to the Mac from work, which is sent home with me every night. So, today being my day off, I’m doing without until tonight when the business laptop comes home. I milled about the house a bit and all I wanted to do was write my Artist’s Statement for the website I just started working on. That’s about when I rediscovered the magic of pen and paper. I ended up writing a great Artist’s Statement and I owe it all to the Mac being out of sight.

Remember in school, before anyone had laptops, we would be forced to write outlines, rough drafts, and final copies for assignments? Some teachers and professors would actually want to see the process of your final paper, including all of your little notes and random ideas jotted down in margins and on scraps of paper. This is a good way to go back and look at ideas you had early on that weren’t quite clear enough and make them better for the final paper. This process made good papers and better writers. It made us progress in writing and made us think and care about our writing. Why shouldn’t a blog be an example of  good writing?

I believe writing your ideas out on paper will make a difference in your posts. I’m not sure how many of you will try it out, but it would be worth the extra effort. The process makes you think and gives your writing respect. There are thousands of bloggers out there. Anyone can get a free blog and toss a bit of random text up for everyone to see. But if you’re blogging about something that’s important to you, take the time to refine your ideas so others understand and care where you’re coming from.

Lyrics of Lowly Life

Changing Time

THE cloud looked in at the window,

And said to the day, “Be dark!”

And  the roguish rain tapped hard on the pane,

To stifle the song of the lark.

The wind sprang up in the tree tops

And shrieked with a voice of death,

But the rough-voiced breeze, that shook the


Was touched with a violet’s breath.

Positively Fourth Street

All Photographs…

Are copyright protected. Any unauthorized use or reproduction of any photograph from this weblog is strictly prohibited.

Out of all of the photographs that I’ve taken with my DSLR this past year, I’ve never had any of the images printed. They just sit in iPhoto, labeled with the date they were taken, sometimes making an appearance on a blog or published in an album on facebook. That’s as far as they ever make it.

Recently, however, I took the plunge and had some  photos that I’d taken on a trip to the Maine coast printed. It is truly amazing to see my images so large on paper. It’s a different feeling altogether than seeing them on a screen. Who knew?  I took  them to Absorb, an art and music festival and couldn’t believe the positive feedback I received. I just expected that a person here and there would approach, leaf through the first few photos, say they’re nice, and then walk away. But much to my delight, I had several people including a local photographer show genuine interest, ask questions, and a woman even offered to talk about my photography on public radio…in the event that I got invited by a local business to show my photos for a First Friday.

A few days after the Absorb festival, I did get invited to do an art show at the local custom framing shop downtown on Fourth Street.  I’ll be featuring some of my work in December in a split show with A.Bellve and I’ll be having a full showing in February. This past Friday, I did a casual showing of my photography at an open studio night in the old Pajama Factory building, where A. Bellve has a private studio. He was very generous to allow me to use it.

A lot has happened since I decided to make my work into actual photographs. This all happened (with a lot of hard work) within 2 weeks and I even managed to sell one of my prints. I’ve been in a bit of a rut with life lately, which is part of why I haven’t posted in a while. (The other part is due to not having access to a computer aside from the weekends, but I will get posting again at least weekly. I have a new computer on the way which will mean more positive posting soon.) This experience has definitely made a difference for me and I feel as though I’m back in my groove. I can tell that this is the start of good things to come and I feel good following through on something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Just talking about what you’d like to do only satisfies so much of your mind.

All images are currently available, matted to 18 1/4 x 24 1/4 and 13 x 17. I have them printed, signed and numbered as a very limited series on acid-free archival paper. Only one of each image is available in the larger size and three are available in the smaller size, with the exception of only numbers 2 and 3 being available of the ‘Bow, Sails, & Rope.’ If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the following email address: jenniferbenick(at)gmail.com.

Entire gallery is available to view at: jenniferbenick.wordpress.com


Bullfrog Brewery’s Thai P.A.

Photographed by ?

+The newest addition to Positive Charge: Beer!, a page dedicated to the breweries that make my favorites. How is beer anything worthy of positive attention? When made by people who put thought and care into every ingredient and every detail of the process to give you nothing less than liquid heaven, beer is indeed something positive. Look for updates on new beers I’ve tasted, what I think of them and where to find them.   Also, I’ll accept any suggestions!

First on my ‘To Drink’ list: ‘Thai P.A.’ (7.2%ABV) from the Bullfrog Brewery in Pennsylvania.

A: Cloudy and darker golden with a white bubbly head. Served in a goblet.

S: Gingery! The Thai spices are very surprising. You’d expect hoppy from an IPA, but this is definitely more gingery with a bit of citrus and cinnamon.

T: Spicy and GINGERY with just enough citrus to keep the spices in check, with a mildly bitter finish. (This is a Belgian IPA) If you’re familiar with the Bullfrog’s Edgar IPA, don’t expect the same level of bitterness.

M: Lightly carbonated with a lighter body. Crisp.

D: Deliciously spicy and aromatic with a juiciness that makes you want to keep pouring them down. Then, the lightly bitter finish that makes you remember that this is definitely an IPA. Perfection.I drank one the first night I tried it and went back for 2 more the next day. I would have no problem spending a warm afternoon with the Bullfrog’s Thai P.A.