Yes, you read it right. The Sanrio character, who turns 40 this year and earns billions through merchandise and themed birthday parties, is reportedly not a cat. She is, says Sanrio, "a little girl".
L.A. Times writer Carolina Miranda learned it from University of Hawaii anthropologist Christine R. Yano, who has studied Hello Kitty for years and has even authored books about the character.
At the time when Yano was making preparations for an exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, and referring all the while to Hello Kitty as a cat, she was told that the icon, in fact, was not a feline creature.
“I was corrected—very firmly,” she recalls. “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.”
Yano also reveals that Hello Kitty is also actually a British girl. Her real name is Kitty White, she’s in third grade and she has a twin sister. Her character, which emerged in the 1970s, was founded on the Japanese fascination then for British culture.
Hello Kitty’s official bio, according to Sanrio, is:
“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.”