Skip to main content

Cat-astrophic revelation purr-turbs Hello Kitty fans

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 1:16 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Forty years and (almost) no one knew the truth... Forty years and (almost) no one knew the truth...
HIDE CAPTION
Kitty bombshell
Hello, licensing deals!
Kitty, phone home
In the air
Kitty cuisine
Dining out
Not just pink
Flying high
Had enough yet?
Video game cases
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hello Kitty is not a cat, anthropologist reveals ahead of retrospective
  • Interview in LA Times ricocheted around Internet among shocked fans
  • Cat-like character is a British girl who has a twin sister and a pet cat

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Six simple words have sent Hello Kitty lovers into a spin.

"Hello Kitty is not a cat."

The apparently shocking revelation was made in an LA Times article published Wednesday about a retrospective of Kitty paraphernalia opening next month at the Japanese American National Museum.

The story started innocently enough before the bombshell was dropped by Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist at the University of Hawaii, who has delved more deeply than most into the Hello Kitty phenomenon.

Goodbye 'Kitty,' hello ... kid?
Comic-Con: Hello Kitty

"That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show," Yano told the LA Times.

"Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."

Whoa.

MORE: Hello Kitty jets: 5 cutest airplanes ever

The news reached far and wide, including backstage after the Linkin Park gig at the Minnesota State Fair.

"I just got off stage to find out that Hello Kitty is not a cat. This is worse than finding out Pluto is not a planet," tweeted clearly shocked rapper Mike Shinoda.

For those who don't know, Hello Kitty is an international superstar who was introduced to the world in 1974 by Japanese company Sanrio.

In the last 40 years her button nose has appeared on a dazzling array of merchandise, generating billions of dollars for the company.

Until now, her pointy ears and whiskers gave her legion of fans the distinct impression she was feline.

She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat.
Christine R. Yano

Wrong.

Summing up the disbelief, @jkltoraay tweeted: "You cannot say hello kitty is not a cat after 40 years no human has whiskers and pointed ears and a little yellow nose."

For some, the news raised more questions than it answered.

"Been tossing and turning for the last few hours trying to figure out how Hello Kitty isn't a cat. How is it possible? What does it mean?" @NotKennyRogers tweeted.

"Since Hello Kitty isn't a cat, wtf is My Melody?" tweeted @mrsunlawyer.

Users raced to update Kitty's Wikipedia entry, which now reads: "She bears the appearance of a white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow although she is actually a little girl."

Singer Katy Perry stepped in to try to calm the masses: "IT'S OKAY HELLO KITTY FANS, KITTY PURRY IS A CAT."

At last count it was retweeted more than 13,000 times.

MORE: At last: World's first Hello Kitty Beauty Spa

As the Sanrio website clearly states, Hello Kitty is a "cheerful and happy little girl ... who lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy."

Yes, she's also British.

For the record, Kitty's birthday is November 1, she likes baking and making pancakes, origami and eating apple pie.

Her favorite saying is "You can never have too many friends."

She may have lost a few today.

Meow.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT