Hello Kitty is not a cat, the company behind Japan's global icon of cuteness insisted yesterday, despite an uproar from internet users who spluttered: "But she's got whiskers!"
The moon-faced creation that adorns everything from pencil cases to pyjamas the world over is, in fact, human.
"Hello Kitty is a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold," brand owner Sanrio says.
The revelation came to light when a Hawaii-based academic specialising in the epitome of kawaii ("cute" in Japanese) asked Sanrio to fact-check captions for an exhibition she was curating to mark the 40th anniversary of Hello Kitty
Christine Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, told the Los Angeles Times that she "was corrected - very firmly" by Sanrio that Kitty was not a cat.
"That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show," the paper quoted her as saying.
"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."
Her real name is Kitty White, a Sanrio spokesman in Tokyo explained, and she was born in southern England on November 1, 1974. She is a Scorpio.
She has a twin sister, Minny White, and lives in an unnamed suburb of London with father George and mother Mary, according to her profile on the web.
Despite her whiskers and pointy ears, just like the rest of her family, Kitty has her own pet - a "real" cat named Charmmy Kitty.
Her life story has always been there, the spokesman said.
Web users were agog at the news.
"Hello Kitty is not actually a cat. Mind blown", tweeted killedbydying. "Sanrio confirms that Hello Kitty is NOT a cat. One of the many reasons why I have trust issues", wrote eisakuivan
"So Hello Kitty isn't a cat? Everything I know is a lie," said nymbc.