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The earliest known example of a “cat beard” photo was uploaded by Tumblr user Catasters on July 28th, 2011, depicting a man touching noses with his tabby cat (shown below). Two days later, Catasters’ image was submitted to the /r/pics subreddit, receiving nearly a thousand up votes. In the following days, the same image was featured on a number of internet humor blogs, including Neatorama, Tastefully Offensive, Buzzfeed, and the Huffington Post.
In early 2012, the fad began to gain some visible momentum on Tumblr] with the creation of the single topic blog cat-beard.com in March and a feature post on the Huffington Post UK on May 1st. Throughout May 2012, the “cat bearding” phenomenon was covered by TheFW, Flotsam and Catsam, the Daily Dawdle, and TheySmell. On May 16th, 2013, Tumblr user Captain Awesome Sauce posted a photo set of five “cat beard” images, which gained more than 50,000 notes in the first 24 hours.