Many cats seem to like beards because it is something they can groom and nuzzle into.
Grooming is an important social behaviour for cats so when they lick your beard it is their way of being affectionate, strengthening your bond, and showing they like you.
Cats seem to enjoy the “furry” nature of a beard.
Beards can smell (and taste) interesting and they offer a warm, cosy place to snuggle into.
Reasons Why Cats May Like Beards
Many cats seem to be intrigued by beards and lots of cat owners say their cat has tried to lick or bite their beard at one point or another.
There are a few reasons why cats may react to beards in this way:
1. It Is Warm
Cats love warmth and they’ll happily snuggle into your beard on a cold day for comfort and heat.
Not only this, but they also get to be close to you and share affection.
2. It Feels Like Fur
Cats like beards because it is similar to fur.
This can encourage your cat to try to groom your beard and may also be the reason they enjoy biting and nuzzling into it too.
Snuggling into a beard probably feels quite familiar too.
3. It Smells Interesting
Cats may like to get up close to their owner’s beards because they can smell something interesting such as food or soap.
The scent and taste of the products you are using could be the reason your cat likes to get into your personal space to lick and rub against your beard.
How Cats React To Bearded Men
In 2011, an interesting study looked at how cats react to photographs of men with beards.
The cats were shown photographs of men with beards of various sizes, shapes, and styles to see how the cats responded to the different appearances.
The study interpreted the data into 3 key findings:
1. Cats do not like men with long beards, especially long dark beards
When shown the photos of men with long beards the cats had the most noticeable reaction.
There was an increase in pulse rate of up to 87%, an increase in respiration of up to 317%, an increase of eye dilation of up to 31% and an increase of fur shed rate of up to 19%.
When shown a photograph of a man with a long beard 52% of the cats attacked the photograph and 34% of them fled.
When shown a photograph of a man with a long, dark beard 79% of the cats attacked the photograph and 19% of them fled.
While we don’t know what the reason for this reaction is, it could be the result of how the face and face shape look to the cat when the beard is long.
It could also be because the long beard distorts the view of the mouth which can make it more difficult to see signs of aggression and negative expressions.
2. Cats are indifferent to men with shorter beards
When shown photographs of men with shorter beards, the cats largely had no visible response and their respiration, pulse, eye dilation, and fur shed rate remained unchanged.
This could be because shorter beards do not obstruct the facial features or face shape of the person.
The shorter beard length could also make the beard appear more similar to fur.
3. Cats are confused and/or disturbed by men with beards that are incomplete
Some of the cats were found to exhibit distress or violent behaviour when shown photographs of men with beards that are incomplete.
There was a 2% increase in how many cats attacked the photograph and a 1% increase in the number of cats that fled when shown the photograph of the man with an incomplete beard.
This unusual reaction could be due to the way an incomplete beard shapes the face and this could mean the face looks broken up or distorted to the cats at first glance.
Who knows, maybe the cats saw the incomplete beard as a sign of a health issue which is why they responded negatively.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Beard?
Your cat is grooming you!
Cats will often groom each other, it is a way for them to strengthen their bond and show they trust each other while also creating a group scent and helping each other stay clean.
It’s something cats will do with their human family too if they have the opportunity.
Cats have a rough tongue that is perfect for detangling and removing stuck particles from fur and they may just think your beard needs some extra attention!
Cats may also lick your beard to show affection or curiosity. The interest in your beard could be due to a number of reasons, including:
- Licking your beard means they can be close to your face
Your cat may be licking your beard as a way of being affectionate.
Licking your beard or face is sometimes a way for cats to show you they want attention and if your cat is obsessively licking your face/ beard it may be a sign that they are feeling stressed.
- The hair is similar to fur
You might have noticed that your cat ignores the hair on your head but licks your beard or eyebrows.
This is because the shorter hair of your beard or eyebrows is more similar to fur and this can encourage them to want to groom you.
- Your beard smells interesting or smells of food.
Your beard may have an appealing/ interesting smell or taste that is encouraging your cat to lick you.
If you haven’t had a meal recently it could be that a product you are using on your face or beard has a scent that has caught your cat’s attention.
How To Stop My Cat From Licking My Beard
If your cat is constantly trying to lick your beard it can get a bit tedious.
Before you react, remember your cat is most likely licking you because they are being affectionate and trying to groom you.
The behaviour is rooted in positive emotion and affection so you want to handle the situation delicately to avoid upsetting your cat.
The best way to stop your cat from licking your beard is by redirecting your cat so when they go to lick your beard, simply move your face away but continue to stroke them.
This way your cat can still get your attention but without making you feel uncomfortable.
If your cat continues trying to lick your beard after regular efforts to redirect them, you may want to move away completely each time the licking starts as a way of communicating to your cat you don’t like it.