Apparently, Hello Kitty is not a cat, contrary to popular belief. University of Hawaii anthropologist Christine R. Yano was preparing an exhibit for the Japanese American National Museum when she hit an unexpected snafu.
In her written plans, which were submitted to Sanrio, she referred to the beloved character as a cat. Although her plans were approved, the company chastised Yano for mislabeling one of their most popular products.
According to Yano, she “was corrected — very firmly” by a Sanrio spokesperson:
“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.”
Yano’s confusion is understandable. Hello Kitty simply looks like a cat. The cartoon character clearly has pointed ears, whiskers, and paw-like hands. The inclusion of “kitty” in her name also suggests she is of feline origin.
However, Sanrio’s official website clearly describes the character as a human child. On the website, Hello Kitty is described as a “cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold.”
Although some fans already know Hello Kitty is not a cat, others are simply confused. Gothamist writer Jen Chung was clearly stunned by the news:
“Next are they going to tell me that my Melody is NOT A BUNNY, that the Little Twin Stars are NOT TWINS, that Keroppi is NOT A FROG?”
The beloved character was designed by a Japanese company. However, according to her official biography, Hello Kitty is a native of London, England. Her family, which includes her parents, grandparents and twin sister, also look like cats. Despite their appearance, they are each described as having human characteristics and behavior.
Ironically, Hello Kitty has a pet cat — named Charmmy Kitty. Although Charmmy is labeled as a cat and Kitty White is described as a little girl, the physical resemblance between the two characters is clear. In addition to Charmmy the cat, Kitty White also has a pet Hamster named Sugar.
Although the website does not explain why Hello Kitty looks like a cat, it does explain why the character was designed without a mouth:
“It’s so that people who look at her can project their own feelings onto her face… Kitty looks happy when people are happy. She looks sad when they are sad. For this psychological reason, we thought she shouldn’t be tied to any emotion.”
Hello Kitty may not be a cat, but she remains a beloved character. For many fans, Kitty White’s species simply does not matter. It is far more important that she has the ability to make them smile.
[Image via Fanshare]