For those of you who have been living under a rock, Hello Kitty is a cultural and marketing juggernaut on equal footing to icons such as Mickey Mouse and Count Chocula. Ok, maybe not that last one, but if you were a kid in the 90s you understood the significance of that sugar bomb in your Saturday morning cereal bowl. This year, everyone’s favorite pussycat is turning 40, and Sanrio is giving us a secret that they have kept for as long as Hello Kitty has been gracing girls’ lunchboxes.
Our kitty is not…a cat? That’s right; Sanrio revealed that Hello Kitty is not a kitty at all. This revelation was discovered by Hello Kitty scholar Christine R. Yano (save this one for next time your parents ask you how useful your gender studies degree is). After compiling research for the Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American Museum she sent her notes to Sanrio, who replied with approval for all except one glaring error.
Yano paraphrases the response by Sanrio. “Hello Kitty is not a cat. She is a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She has a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
Yano then describes Kitty’s backstory. “Her name is Kitty White and she was born a Scorpio and adores apple pie. She has a twin sister and is a perpetual third-grader. She lives outside of London.”
Now that Sanrio has revealed Kitty’s secret, it’s time to put them to task. If Kitty White is not a cat, why does she have whiskers and cat ears? Is she always playing dress up? If that’s the case, is My Melody not a rabbit, and Badtz-Maru not a penguin because they carry anthropomorphic traits?
Yet when pressed further, Sanrio can’t seem to make up their mind on Kitty’s species. When contacted recently about the statement that Hello Kitty was a little girl, Sanrio issued another response that, “Hello Kitty has always been a cat. She is the personification of a cat. To say otherwise would be ridiculous.”
Indeed, Hello Kitty is thought to be a cartoon version of a Japanese Bobtail Cat, as evidence by her stubby tail. It’s likely that Sanrio hasn’t quite made up its mind on their mascot, but all evidence leans towards their second release. Outside of Halloween, little girls don’t sport cat ears, whiskers, and an adorable stubby tail.