Pop culture

Hello Kitty fans tweet shock after hearing she's not a cat

Aug. 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM ET

Hello Kitty floats down 6th Avenue in New York City's annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013.
Reuters file
Hello Kitty floats down 6th Avenue in New York City's annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013.

Hello Kitty fans were left yowling on Thursday as major news broke about the adorable little cartoon character they've come to love over the last 40 years: She's not a cat!

Or ... is she?

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Kitty creator Sanrio confirmed that she's actually a little girl who even has her own pet cat, Charmmy Kitty. Her real name is Kitty White, she has a twin sister and is forever in third grade. Plus, she lives in London — not Japan, despite the character's identification with that country.

The initial revelations come from anthropologist Christine R. Yano (author of "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific"), who said that Sanrio "very firmly" corrected her when she initially referred to Hello Kitty as a feline.

But there's more to the story! 

When the Kotaku blog reached out to Sanrio directly, they were given a slightly more qualified statement. The spokesperson there said that "Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat."

The post indicated that the Japanese word the spokesperson used was "gijnka," which translates as "anthropomorphization" or "personification."

That may be the cue for everyone to calm down a bit. Before this clarification was made public, fans of all stripes were reacting with astonishment and humor, particularly on Twitter:

In the end, Hello Kitty is a cat in fans' minds. And let's face it, a bewhiskered being with pointed white ears hardly seems like a child. But a child-like kitty cat ... maybe that could work.

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