So it turns out that Hello Kitty isn’t a cat (no, we can’t believe that either)

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Yes, you read the title correctly – Hello Kitty maker Sanrio made it clear that the beloved Japanese cartoon character has never been a cat, and we are extremely confused (understood?) Felines.

The famous character has been around since the 70s, and with his simplistic yet adorable design, he has become a staple in Japanese kawaii culture. But all is not as it seems, because our favorite cartoon kitten is actually not a cat. Want to create your own character? Check out our top tips for character design.

A moving image of a Hello Kitty style cityscape.

The character is recognized around the world. (Image credit: Corey Helford Gallery)

Although his name is ‘Kitty’, it turns out that the famous cartoon is actually a little girl.
and in fact, she’s not even Japanese. According to Sanrio’s website, Kitty White (full name) is a British schoolgirl who “was born in the suburbs of London.”

The revelation came in 2014, when Christine R. Yano (University of Hawaii anthropologist) was preparing information for a Hello Kitty exhibit. Yano told the LA Times that the makers contacted her to say, “Hello Kitty is not a cat. She is a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But this is not a cat. She is never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does however have a companion cat, which is called Charmmy Kitty. “

A cartoon of Hello Kitty with her pet cat, Charmmy Kitty

Hello Kitty with her pet cat, Charmmy Kitty. (Image credit: Sanrio)

It might be the cat ears and whiskers that confuse us, but we can’t ignore the feline figure. According to good old Wikipedia, Hello Kitty is a “gajinka” – which roughly translates to describing a form of anthropomorphism. The term refers to when non-human creatures or objects are reimagined as humans, much like when we saw this artist’s realistic re-designs of his favorite cartoon characters.

We are not the only ones who are completely taken aback by all of this. The astonishing revelation also left the internet completely baffled, so Twitter users took to the platform to express their confusion over the cartoon.

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Cat or girl, the cartoon is always quite adorable and an influential character in the kawaii (Japanese culture of cuteness) movement. It might take a while to get used to Hello Kitty being a real human, but for even greater shock, take a look at this totally gruesome picture of what Toad looks like without his hat on.

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