Hello Kitty – what type of cat?

Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty. Image: MikeB from video.
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Hello Kitty is a female, anthropomorphised (humanised), Japanese Bobtail cat. She is all-white and her full name is Kitty White (‘Kiti Howaito’). In terms of the cat fancy, traditionally the Japanese bobtail is normally seen in a tortoiseshell-and-white coat. This is a coat of three colours (particolor) and not all-white. Although the Japanese Bobtail is recognised in all colours of all divisions and therefore an all-white Japanese Bobtail is recognised by the cat fancy. It’s just that the classic image that I have of a Japanese bobtail is with the calico coat, with an orange bobbed tail and inverted ‘V’ head markings above the eyes in both orange and black (see base of page). Of course, as hello kitty is entirely anthropomorphised you don’t have to take things too seriously 😎.

Hello KittyTM is trademarked brand of the Japanese company Sanrio. She is highly cute cat for marketing purposes. Sugary sweetness is the Japanese style for kids it seems to me and it is very popular with children. She was created in 1974 and achieved rapid success after her launch in 1975. She was introduced into the US in 1976.

First Hello Kitty product sold in 1975
First Hello Kitty product sold in 1975. Image: Wikipedia.

RELATED: Japan’s New Hello Kitty Bullet Train (Pictures)

Japan's new Hello-Kitty bullet train
Photos: courtesy West Japan Railway/Sanrio Co. Ltd

She first appeared in a vinyl coin purse which was sold in Japan in 1975. Yuko Shimizu was the original designer. As mentioned, her success is born out of the attraction to cuteness in Japan (kawaii). Cats lend themselves to the concept of cuteness particularly kittens, of course. And the anthropomorphization (humanization) of Hello Kitty is of a toddler.

By 2010 the company which owned this fictional character, Sanrio, had turned her into a global marketing phenomenon worth $6 billion annually. By 2014 when Hello Kitty was in effect 40 years old and worth about $8 billion a year. She became one of the highest grossing media franchises of all time.

Here are two more examples of products from the Hello Kitty range:

This is the Sanrio shop.

The founder of Sanrio, Shintaro Tsuji, discovered early on that cute designs helped to shift products. This led to the cute image of the Japanese Bobtail cat that was designed by Yuko Shimizu.

From Wikipedia commons - the image has been used to promote the brand.

Here is a real Japanese Bobtail:

Japanese Bobtail Cat Facts For Kids
Japanese Bobtail Cat Facts For Kids. Photos copyright Helmi Flick. Click this link to see the page about this cat breed written for kids.

Below are some more pages on cartoon cats.

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