Hello Kitty Not a Cat? What Else Don't You Know?

Dana Hinders

According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty is not a cat after all. She's actually a human girl named Kitty White, who lives in England with her parents and her twin sister Mimmy. Mimmy wears a yellow bow on her right ear, while Kitty wears a red bow on her left ear. Her pets include a white Persian named Charmmy Kitty and a hamster named Sugar, who was a gift from her friend Daniel Starr.

What else don't you know about Hello Kitty?

Hello Kitty's first appearance was on a Japanese coin purse in 1974. Forty years later, Hello Kitty is a global phenomenon worth $7 billion per year. Hello Kitty's customer base has also broadened substantially since the character was introduced. Once exclusively for young girls, Hello Kitty now appears on lingerie, jewelry, and other products for adults. Bank of America even offers a Hello Kitty-themed checking account!

Born on November 1, Hello Kitty is a Scorpio. If you're into astrology, this means she's resourceful, strong, self-confident, and extraordinarily intuitive. Scorpios are also loyal friends who choose their associates very carefully.

Hello Kitty has no mouth because Sanrio executives wanted people to be able to project their feelings onto the character. Also, since she's known throughout the world, she is not bound to the limits of any one spoken language.

Hello Kitty may be just a girl, but she's a hard working one at that. In 2008, Japan named Hello Kitty as the ambassador of Japanese tourism in both China and Hong Kong -- the first time a fictional character has ever been appointed to such a role. Hello Kitty also holds the title of UNICEF Special Friend of Children, since her mission has always been to encourage friendship between people from around the world.

Tara Strong, one of the American actresses voicing Hello Kitty, is also the voice of Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls, Timmy and Poof from The Fairly OddParents, Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and Dil Pickles from Rugrats. Strong and her husband Craig run VoiceStarz, Inc., an Internet-based company teaching people how to get into the voiceover business.

As with any other pop culture icon, Hello Kitty's reign has not been without controversy. One of the most recent Hello Kitty-related controversies involves singer Avril Lavigne's Hello Kitty music video. Lavigne said the video was done as a tribute to her Japanese fans, but the video was widely criticized as racist after its release earlier this year.

[Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan via Flickr].