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Hello Kitty not a cat despite name, whiskers: Japan's iconic kitty is human

Hello Kitty is not a cat. The Japanese icon beloved by children and adults worldwide is human. In fact, the feline-faced critter with the pointy ears and whiskers is actually a little girl named Kitty White. She is the daughter of George and Mary White.

Hello Kitty is not a cat
Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

In a surprise move on Aug. 26, 2014, Christine R. Yano, Ph.D., an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii told Los Angeles Times, "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." Yano is the curator of an upcoming Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles in October.

"Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty," opens Oct. 11, 2014 at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., in downtown Los Angeles.

Yano, who is the author of author of "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific," revealed a few additional details about the icon's life. "She has a twin sister. She's a perpetual third-grader. She lives outside of London. I could go on. A lot of people don't know the story and a lot don't care." Hello Kitty is plenty of things. She just isn't a cat, and that's not opinion. It's fact.

Yano learned the hard way that Hello Kitty is not a cat. When she prepared scripts for the upcoming Hello Kitty retrospective, she referred to the icon as a cat. "I was corrected -- very firmly," Yano told the Los Angeles Times. "That's one correction Sanrio (the company that owns the character) made for my script for the show."

"Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific" was published in 2013, and the description of the book on Amazon refers to Hello Kitty as a cat. "Through interviews, Yano shows how consumers use this iconic cat to negotiate gender, nostalgia, and national identity."

Hello Kitty's official webpage updated her classification, calling her a "girl with a heart of gold."

"Hello Kitty is a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold. She lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy. Hello Kitty loves to bake and she can make really delicious cookies. She learned her baking talents from her mama, who makes scrumptious apple pies that are enjoyed by the whole family."

The perpetual third-grader turns 40 this year. Just don't call her a cat.