What do you mean, Hello Kitty is NOT a CAT?

By Christina Kim - September 10, 2014

When I first read the headlines on the statement from Sanrio, the creator behind the world-famous feline cartoon character (or, ermm...remains to be corrected), on the clarification of Hello Kitty's real identity, there is only word I could think of, "WHAT?!"

Yes, in the latest uproar to take the world by storm in addition to the weather and chaos, this has to add to the list of surprises and unexpected.
I mean, what does it even represent with this obviously mind-blowing, to the point of ridiculous even, revelation of a character which many have believed for a total of four decades (Hello Kitty is celebrating her 40th birthday this year), to be a cat? And, you are telling me that, no one clarified on that perception ever since?
So for four absolute freakin' decades, we all believed that this was a cat, to be told otherwise today?

The revelation came about when Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist who was corrected (or in her exact words, 'very firmly') by Sanrio as she was preparing her curating works for a Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum and she called the world famous icon, 'a cat'.
Well, it was not something astounding or to scream about, as everyone did actually believe that Hello Kitty, is a cat anyway, or at least until Sanrio made that correction to firmly put Christine R. Yano in her tracks by stating that Hello Kitty is not a cat, and was never made to be, a point made to correct Yano's script.

Sanrio's exact words:
"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."

The actual story of Hello Kitty; whose real name is Kitty White, is a romanticized character created against the backdrop in England back then in the 1970s when the Japanese were fans of the Great Britain. Hello Kitty, was originally created as Kitty White, a fictional British character, a daughter to George and Mary White, and she even has a twin sister Mimmy White.
She is a third-grade student(around the age of 9 years old), who loves to bake and play the piano, dreams of becoming a pianist or a poet someday.

"As tall as five apples, and as heavy as three, Hello Kitty is a bright little girl with a heart of gold. She loves to bake cookies and play the piano, and dreams of one day becoming a pianist or maybe even a poet. She has a gift for music and English, and a soft spot for Mama’s apple pie. Hello Kitty and her twin sister Mimmy are the best of friends." - Sanrio

As if that is not confusing enough, Hello Kitty even has her own pet cat, Charmmy Kitty.
That is supposed to add to the clarification that Hello Kitty, or Kitty White, or whatever her name is now, is not a cat when she has a pet cat with the same confusing denotation of herself, as in 'Kitty'?

Now, back to all the points made by the creator that Hello Kitty, is not a cat.

"She walks and sits like a two-legged creature"
Now, why would a normal little girl be depicted or described as a 'two-legged creature'?
I take it that could be just a translation jargon, or along the blurred lines, so that's settled and we can move on.

However.... how does one explain the pointed ears Hello Kitty has and the whiskers on the face, of ermm, a so-called little girl?
That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
Take a walk on the streets and look around you, do you see any little girl with naturally pointed ears and whiskers on her face unless they are dressed up in some freakin' Halloween costume?

Oh okay, I get it, this is a cartoon character and that there should be room for imagination to run a little wild, which is why, most of us are led to believe that Hello Kitty was indeed a Cat, an adorable feline character loved by many young girls and even adults, with a shy and sweet personality?

We have grown up so accustomed to this white little Kitty famously depicted with her cute iconic face with whiskers and a lop-sided ribbon on her ear, and we have seriously believed that she was indeed, a cat; which is why this amazing revelation made today created such an uproar in the social media community and raised so many questions among experts and laymen alike.

How could we believe that Hello Kitty is no longer a cat, after being led to believe it was for the past four decades? (I wasn't even born when Hello Kitty first made its appearance in the market, and I already known her character since I was a little girl because she was just this iconic, and made such breaking waves in the animation market).

Most of us have been believing or just accepted that Hello Kitty is one of the world's most famous character, and yes, she is a cat, or so we believed for decades.
It makes me wonder, does Sanrio knows nothing about how Hello Kitty is perceived as a cat all this while?
Why is there no public clarification or declaration on the identity of Hello Kitty all this while, and that we are just allowed to believe that she is indeed a feline character until this very day, when someone wants to state that she is a cat, and then Sanrio decides to just, correct her?
It just does not make any sense to me.
Is this all just a marketing or publicity attempt to increase the popularity of the already famous character? It definitely worked extremely well in their favor, with the news spreading and waking up the world in less than 24 hours with this revelation.

I still can't believe that Hello Kitty is not a cat, no, never, because this is just like that moment in Emperor's New Clothes, where you wonder whether you are just enveloped in illusion and are you that only person who thinks of that specific picture while the rest of the world thinks otherwise.
Fortunately for me, I think the picture is working the other way around; the whole world definitely thinks Hello Kitty is a cat, along with me (Yeay for that!) and that Sanrio is just not helping with their statement, or rather, convincing enough to tell us otherwise.

Oh yes, it might be better that Sanrio added, "It is a character, a 100% personification done in the motif of a cat. This is nothing new. We’ve always had this setting since Hello Kitty made its debut 40 years ago."

"Hello Kitty doesn’t [have elements of a cat]. It is more of an anthropomorphism."

"...our answer is that Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat–a character."

"...It’s difficult to provide a specific classification of what she is, or say something definitely, since everything is set in a world of characters."

Is it me, or is Sanrio just as confused on the identity of Hello Kitty?

I think even Kitty is confused, and does that explain why she doesn't have a mouth?
Perhaps she just wanted to keep mum about her own identity?

Whatever that is, I still refuse to believe that she is NOT a cat, along with the rest of the world, although I know, it is official, Hello Kitty is not a cat, or so, as Sanrio 'firmly corrects'.

Now my whole childhood or everything just seems like a lie, and I can never look at cartoon characters, or animal personifications in the same way.

Thank God Mickey Mouse is still a mouse, Donald Duck is still a duck....but if tomorrow there is another correction, my world of imagination has officially ended!

Hello Kitty IS a CAT, case closed.


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