Cat bearding is the latest viral photo trend to seize the attention of hip internet users everywhere. As you probably know, cat bearding is the art of positioning your cat chin-up in front of the lower half of your own face to emulate a luscious feline-hair beard (and possibly hide your own boredom), like so. How did this fad come about? Why now? What does it imply about human nature?
According to the Globe and Mail, the blog that is responsible for the popularity upsurge in the past week is a blog called Captainawesomesauce, whose cat-beard post reaped in almost 90,000 shares within six days. But the act of cat bearding pre-dates that blog, as can be seen here, with the earliest known example dating back to July 28, 2011.
Why? A few applicable theories have been offered up, including the detailed "Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism" by Ethan Zuckerman, which purports that the majority of internet users would much rather use the web for looking at funny pictures of cats than for anything substantial, and thereby internet platforms cater to this noble cause. More likely, though, is that the narcissism rampant in our extensive selfies led to the need for us, as internet users, to include ourselves in the cat pictures we so love to look at for hours on end, and in a wittily amusing way.
The movement has triggered a response from dog owners who have tried to match the craze with their own canine version. As of yet, the dog-bearding pictures have not gained nearly as much popularity in this trend and in the wider history of internet sensations. Cats are definitely not cuter than dogs; cuteness is irrelevant. However, the popularity of cats on the internet is probably because dogs come off as too eager to please and we find entertainment in the fact that cats are almost always unimpressed with whatever reason it is we're laughing at them.
Whether cats will continue their reign over the internet in the years to come is likely, considering that a mass inability to associate the blogosphere with productivity will probably not change. Still, companies are harnessing this love for weird cat trends and using it in their campaigns, proving that cats may just be the best way to grab an internet user's attention. While cat bearding might stick around a little longer than the average viral feline fad because it has our own faces in it, anyone with a love for food will always know that cat breading is the far superior one.