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A brief history of catbearding, the most popular meme on Instagram

Depending on your taste in human-animal hybrids, #catbearding is hilarious or horrifying. Or both.


Kris Holt

Internet Culture

Posted on May 23, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 3:06 pm CDT

Catbearding is an awful, terrifying meme that’s taking over Instagram.

Or it’s utterly hilarious, depending on your taste in human-animal hybrids.

This is how you catbeard: Hold your cat up to your face, using the furry friend’s mouth to replace your own, creating a bizarre feline humanoid. 

The meme seems to have started a couple of years back, but has exploded in popularity over the last few days with hundreds of pictures posted. The first use of the #catbeard hashtag was on Feb. 18, 2011, and the first use of #catbeards was July 12 last year. 

A massive coalition of sadists have imposed their catbearding on others over the last couple of days. In addition to the Instagram tag #catbeards, there are now #catbearding and #catbeardswag. A few dedicated accounts have cropped up to capture the craze: @catbeards, @catbearding, and @catbeardswag.

The latter of those suggests it is the sole resource of “cat bearding done right.” For my money, every instance of catbearding is wrong.

Photo by @mrgwincredible/Instagram

Photo by @82keenan/Instagram

Photo by @janicelxh/Instagram

Photo via @catbeardswag/Instagram

Dog-lovers, none too pleased by this invasion, tried to take over the meme with dog beards. 

Photo via @catbeards/Instagram

Photo by @patylayne/Instagram

Photo by @lkrh/Instagram

Not everyone was successful in creating a seamless blend of person and cat. Thanks to the #catbeardingfail tag, we see the attempts that didn’t quite work.

Photo by @coreyradio/Instagram

Photo by @dmuffinman/Instagram

Even those who don’t have cats are taking part.

Photo by @evelynmala/Instagram

Main photo by @gervynmoh/Instagram

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*First Published: May 23, 2013, 1:42 pm CDT