Aug. 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM ET
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.