I can still remember many years ago when I walked into a Sanrio store and laid my eyes on that adorable white kitty with the red bow. I was hooked right there and have been a fan ever since. I have also spent the last 5 years or so collecting whatever I can on that darn cute kitty. Now I keep saying, Kitty, because well when you look at her, she looks like a cat to me. She has whiskers, ears and you can even sometimes see her cute little bobtail depending on what outfit she is in. However, in 2015, Sanrio dropped a bombshell and said that Hello Kitty wasn’t a cat, well sort of. So, being the fan I am, I have decided to share with you the story about how Hello Kitty came to be and to try shed some light on the mystery of what she really is. So here is Hello Kitty, the story BEHIND THE CARTOON.   

Hello Kitty? Hello Girl? Photo Source: Cartoon-clipart.com/Sanrio company

 In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, the founder of Sanrio began selling rubber sandals with flowers painted on them. The sandals were just plain at first but after adding the flowers, Shintaro noticed that this brought in more sales. So he hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise. This is how Hello Kitty entered the world after being designed by Yuko Shimizu. Hello Kitty was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974. She made her first appearance on a vinyl coin purse in Japan where she is sitting between a bottle of milk and a goldfish.
On the Sanrio website, it says her full name is Kitty White and she is a bright little girl.
Girl? but wait, when a Sanrio rep was asked about this, this was their response: “Hello Kitty is the personification of a cat in the same way that Mickey Mouse is neither a human nor an ordinary mouse. Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat” the company said. “It’s going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat.”
Okay, now I am even more confused! Despite the cat-like characteristics like pointed ears, whiskers and a tail and what the rep said, on Sanrio’s bio about Hello Kitty, she is described her as a third-grade girl who was born in suburban London. Sanrio decided to make her British because, at the time, foreign countries, in particular, Britain were trendy in Japan.

Mama, Papa, Mimmy and Kitty. The White Family. Photo Source: http://www.cartoon-clipart.co/ Sanrio Compan

Her family consists of her parents George and Mary White and she has a twin sister named Mimmy. The way to tell the difference between the two sisters is that Mimmy wears a yellow bow on her left ear and Kitty wears a red bow on her right ear. She also has a boyfriend named Daniel Starr.

By the mid 80’s Hello Kitty had gained worldwide popularity. Most of the merchandise was targeted more for young girls, like toothbrushes, barrettes, school supplies and writing supplies. By the 90’s, Sanrio began marketing Hello Kitty products to adult women. They produced products like makeup and handbags with the characters face on them. The release coincided with the rise of the Japanese Kawaii or “Cuteness” culture which helped Hello Kitty’s sales. From there Sanrio began to expand it’s Hello Kitty product lines to clothes, jewelry, watches, household appliances and much more.

In 1999, Hello Kitty appeared on 12,000 different products yearly. By 2008, Hello Kitty was responsible for half of Sanrio’s 1 Billion revenue and there were over 50,000 different Hello Kitty branded products in more than 60 countries. In 2007, following trends in Japan, Sanrio began using darker designs. They started putting Kitty in more black and less pink and started pulling away from the Kawaii look.

It didn’t seem to take long before you could find Hello Kitty everywhere and now with the older crowd on board, Sanrio started producing more adult related and high-end products. Even some corporate partners wanted to collaborate with Sanrio. In 2006, Fender and Sanrio put out the Hello Kitty Stratocaster electric guitar. In 2005, EVA Airways in Taiwan added a Hello Kitty Airbus A330-200 commercial jet airliner. Due to the popular demand, EVA Airways added 3 more and 2 more in 2012 and a year later added a 777-300ER jet airliner. There is also a partnership between Simmons Jewelry Co and Sanrio where the jewelry range from $300 to $5000.


In Taipei, Taiwan you can find a Hello Kitty themed restaurant called Hello Sweets. In Sydney, Australia there is a Hello Kitty themed dinner and a Hello Kitty Dim Sum shop in Kowloon, Hong Kong. In 2008, Yuanlin, Taiwan opened a Hello Kitty maternity hospital. All the room decor, the bed linens, nurses uniforms, etc have Hello Kitty on them. Besides the restaurants, Hello Kitty has animated series, comics, music and video games to add to the long list of Hello Kitty products.


If you still can’t get enough of Hello Kitty from all these things then you can go and visit Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo where there is a Hello Kitty theme park. Also, released on Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary in China is another Hello Kitty theme park. The one in Puroland features many other Sanrio characters, where this one is strictly dedicated to Hello Kitty.

So, that is Hello Kitty’s story! She might be a little kitty or she could be a little girl. I guess she is whatever one you want her to be since I think she is a little of either one!


Thank you for taking the time to read and I will leave you with some more quick little facts about Hello Kitty.

  • Hello, Kitty’s birthday is November 1st and her sign is a Scorpio.
  • Her blood type is A
  • Shimizu got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll’s book Through the looking glass, where there is a scene where Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty.
  • Hello, Kitty was strictly marketed as merchandise until 1992 when she began appearing in books and tv shows.
  • She has a pet cat named Charmmy that was given to her by her father. Charmmy looks a lot like Kitty who isn’t a kitty and the only difference is Charmmy walks on all four. She also has a pet hamster named Sugar.
  • Hello, Kitty is the ambassador of Japanse Tourism in China and Hong Kong.
  • Hello Kitty has no mouth because she speaks from the heart.