Hello Kitty not a cat? That's going 'too far'

"It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat," Sanrio clarified to Kotaku. "Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat."
By Veronica Linares Contact the Author   |  Aug. 29, 2014 at 7:59 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A story about an upcoming Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum published Tuesday by the LA Times informed people all over the world that "Hello Kitty is not a cat," but the issue is much more complex than that.

The famed Sanrio character is about to have a big month in Los Angeles to celebrate 40 years. Not only will the city open the "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" exhibit in early October, but two weeks later the first-ever Hello Kitty Con will also open in LA's Museum of Contemporary art.

In anticipation of the events the LA Times contacted University of Hawaii anthropologist Christine R. Yano, who has studied the Hello Kitty phenomenon in depth, to uncover a few misconceptions of the beloved character. Among them, that Hello Kitty is a cat.

Yano told the publication she was "corrected very firmly" while preparing her texts for the upcoming exhibition because she referred to Hello Kitty as a feline.

"That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. 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. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."

In fact, there is a lot more to Hello Kitty than meets the eye. Her description on the Sanrio website claims she lives in the suburbs of London, England, is a Scorpio, weighs around three apples, and loves to bake cookies, make origami and collect little stars.

But Yano's revelations shocked to a point that Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft decided to further investigate the non-catness of the character. After contacting Sanrio's Tokyo headquarters, Kotaku was told that saying Hello Kitty is not cat would be "going too far" but that claiming she is human would be just plain wrong.

"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."

Thus, even though Hello Kitty has a pet cat and walks like a two-legged creature, she is a cat in the same way Disney's Goofy is a dog, yet not a pet dog like Pluto.

For those who are still skeptical about Hello Kitty's identity, Kotaku pointed out that Hello Kitty didn't have a name when she first appeared on a 1974 coin purse. The pouch, however, did have the word "Hello" above the character's image. In time, Sanrio decided to name the cartoon Kitty after one of Alice's pet cats in Through the Looking-Glass.

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