The cat / beard question, answered


Via the amazing Erin Dollar, a study of feline reactions to bearded men.

It is eminently quotable in numerous places:

Norquist (1988) performed a series of experiments in which cats were exposed to photographs of Robert Bork[1] (not pictured here), a man whose beard is confined largely to the underside of the jaw. After viewing the Bork photograph, 26% of the cats exhibited paralysis of the legs and body, including the neck. An additional 31% of the cats exposed to the Bork photograph showed other types of severe neurological and/or pulmocardial distress and/or exhibited extremely violent behavior. Because of this, we did not include a photograph of this type of bearded man in our study.

While each cat was viewing the photographs, it was held by a laboratory assistant. To ensure that the cats were not influenced by stroking or other unconscious cues from the assistant, the assistant was anesthetized prior to each session. The cats’ reactions were assessed for changes in pulse rate, respiration, eye dilation, fur shed rate, and qualitative behavior.


Cats do not like men with long beards, especially long dark beards.
Cats are indifferent to men with shorter beards.
Cats are confused and/or disturbed by men with beards that are incomplete (e.g., Bork) and to a lesser degree by men whose beards have missing parts (e.g., Crafts).

You’re welcome.

One thought on “The cat / beard question, answered”

  1. you really think it was the beard w/bork? anyhow – fwiw, other than periodic mistakes in judgement and seasonal fluctuations, i’ve had the same beard for ages and of the cats we had in the period, 1 loved me, 1 hated me and 5 really couldn’t care less as long as i kept the food coming…

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