Anthropologist Christine Yano shocked the world when she revealed Hello Kitty – the über-cute Japanese cartoon character – is not actually a cat!

Yano, who was writing text for an exhibition featuring the ribboned cat-person, says Sanrio Tokyo, the Japanese company behind Kitty, told her: "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."

The company later clarified the statement, saying that cartoon character is the "personification of a cat", rather than a real cat. However, it seems Kitty still lives just outside of London, not in her birthplace of Japan.

Hello Kitty Performer
A performer dressed as a Hello Kitty mascot wearing a kimono performs a classical Japanese dance at an event named "Let's learn Japanese culture with Hello Kitty" at Tamagawa Takashimaya shopping center in Tokyo. Kitty was created by Yuko Shimizu. She made her first appearance in Japan in 1974.Toru Hanai/Reuters
Hello Kitty Balloon
The Hello Kitty balloon float makes its way down 6th Avenue during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in New York. Kitty came to the US in 1976: two years after appearing in Japan.Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Hello Kitty and Lady Gaga
Singer Lady Gaga kisses a Hello Kitty doll, which will be put up for a charity auction for Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief, during a news conference in Tokyo in 2013. Kitty belongs the 'kawaii' - 'cute' - part of Japanese pop culture. Some art critics say that appreciation of kawaii has replaced the appreciation of traditional concepts of beauty and refined arts in Japan.Toru Hanai/Reuters
Hello Kitty Coins
Gold and silver coins commemorating Hello Kitty's 30th anniversary. The coins, issued by the Cook Islands and cast by the Perth Mint, have a portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on one side and bear Hello Kitty in traditional Kabuki on the other, in 99.99% pure gold and 99.9% pure silver, went on sale in 2004. By 2010 the Hello Kitty brand was worth $5bn (£3bn, E3.8bn).Toshiyuki Aizawa/Reuters
Hello Kitty Tiara
This platinum tiara decorated with a Hello Kitty charm was revealed at Sanrio's company headquarters in Tokyo in 2004. The tiara, encrusted with 167 pink and black colour diamonds and seven pearls, was put on sale to commemorate Hello Kitty's 30th anniversary. It was only available by made-to-order at Y3m ($27,300).Toshiyuki Aizawa/Reuters
Hello Kitty figurine
A Hello Kitty figurine, studded with a total of 19,636 Swarovski crystals, formed part of Swarovski's Hello Kitty collection. Only 88 of the figurines were made, and went on sale for Y1,155,000 ($14,246). Kitty stars in two theme parks: Harmonyland and the indoor Sanrio Puroland.Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
Hello Kitty Robot
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. The interactive communication robot is equipped with sensor cameras in the eyes which are able to measure the distance from a person in front of it and identify the person.Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
Hello Kitty Make-up Mirror
A participant looks into a Hello Kitty shaped mirror at the backstage of the MODELS 2009 fashion model audition in Tokyo. Kitty's branding is used on everything from credit cards to aeroplanes.Toru Hanai/Reuters
Hello Kitty balloon and child
A Japanese girl looks up at a balloon of Hello Kitty at Sanrio Puroland, Tokyo. Hello Kitty, which turns over $500m a year, is by far the most popular character invented by Sanrio, snapped up by followers from all age groups in Japan and 40 other countries around the world.Yuriko Nakao/Reuters