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A Japanese woman smiles next to Hello Kitty Robo, developed by Japanese robot maker Business Design Laboratory, at the 2005 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo.YURIKO NAKAO/Reuters

Nothing is ever what it seems. Prairie dogs are rodents, fireflies are beetles, and Hello Kitty is a not a real cat.

You heard right. The celebrity cartoon has apparently been fooling fans with her feline appearance for almost 40 years – in fact, she is not an actual kitty, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gawker's gaming blog Kotaku has since reached out to Sanrio, the Japanese company that created the creature, and clarified that Hello Kitty is not a true cat but a "personification" or "motif" of a cat. (Surprise?)

The purr-culiar details of Hello Kitty's past were first unearthed by anthropologist Christine Yano while she was curating the Japanese American National Museum's upcoming retrospective honouring the red-bowed icon. Sanrio "firmly" informed the scholar that Hello Kitty is a cartoon character, little girl and friend. A spokesperson from the company has since told Kotaku that she is an anthropormorphization.

Hello Kitty is a nickname for Kitty White. She is "around 5 apples" tall. She was born and lives in London. She has a forgotten twin sister named Mimmy (who is also not a cat, in case you are wondering.) She may not be an actual kitty, but many of her friends belong to the animal kingdom, including a pair of monkeys, several bears (of both the real and teddy variety) and a sun-bathing seal. These and other details about Ms. White's secret life have been hiding in plain sight at

The news may not be surprising for anyone who has spent serious time observing Ms. White's behaviour. Have you ever seen her walk on all fours? Did you notice that she can make a peace sign with her paw? How could she even meow without a mouth?

What other cat-resembling cartoons are concealing something? Are Sylvester J. Pussycat, Pink Panther, and Felix the Cat in cahoots with her? Are other animal-like animations only masquerading as animals? Is Goofy a dog, Daffy a duck, Mickey a mouse? What does it all mean?

Avril Lavigne's weird Hello Kitty tribute song all makes sense now. The singer was just trying to warn us of Ms. White's true identity when she penned lyrics about a slumber party with the not-cat where they play spin the bottle and truth or dare, roll around in underwear and – wait for it – keep a secret after making a pinky swear.

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