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Hello? Kitty is unmasked

Cath Thomas, of Goonellabah, has spent eight years collecting Hello Kitty products.
Cath Thomas, of Goonellabah, has spent eight years collecting Hello Kitty products. Marc Stapelberg

HELLO Kitty is not a cat.

Yes. I know. Next we'll have to double check if Peppa Pig is actually a possible source of bacon.

As CNN put it this week, the revelation was a "cat-astrophic revelation (that) purr-turbs Hello Kitty fans."

So, here is the ugly truth: Hello Kitty is not a cat but a 40-year-old female called Kitty White from outside London.

Christine Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, was preparing a script for a Hello Kitty exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Hello Kitty owner company, Sanrio, "very firmly" pointed out to Ms Yano that Hello Kitty is not a cat, but a girl.

"She's never depicted on all fours," they pointed out, and she "walks and sits like a two-legged creature".

She even has a pet cat of her own, called Charmmy Kitty.

The revelation sent shockwaves to Hello Kitty fans across the globe, including Lismore's Cath Thomas, arguably the character's biggest fan in the Northern Rivers.

We spoke to Ms Thomas yesterday.

When did you 'discover' Hello Kitty?

I knew about Hello Kitty when I was a little girl, but I didn't start to really like her until I was around 19.

Why do you think you like her so much?

She is so cute and versatile! I like every genre of Hello Kitty from cute, to nerdy, to punk.

What is the most sought after item/experience for Hello Kitty lovers?

I can't speak for every Hello Kitty fan out there, but there is a Hello Kitty plane and I would love to go on it one day. Everything is Hello Kitty, even the food is Hello Kitty shaped.

How many Hello Kitty items do you own/ what is the maximum you've ever owned?

How long is a piece of string? I honestly couldn't tell you. I've owned so many different kinds of Hello Kitty paraphernalia over the years from toasters to DVD players.

My favorite is my Hello Kitty snowboard.

What did you think of the news that Kitty is not really a cat but a human?

I am shocked! I knew Hello Kitty was female, but I thought she was a female cat.

Are there many Hello Kitty lovers you know in the Northern Rivers?

Not too many that I know about, I've seen a few Hello Kitty decked-out cars and have been very jealous.

at a glance

Name: Kitty White.

Aliases: Hello Kitty in the West, Harokiti in Japan.

Owner: Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu.

For years, she was explained as an anthropomorphic white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow.

However, in 2014 Sanrio stated that the character is not simply a cat, describing her as being a little English girl called Kitty White from outside London.

The character's first appearance on an item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in Japan in 1974 and in the United States in 1976.

This year, when Hello Kitty is 40 years old, earning Sanrio $7 billion a year, all without any advertising.



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