Your childhood has been torn asunder by the Gods that once gifted you. In preparing a Hello Kitty retrospective for the Japanese American National Museum, University of Hawaii Anthropologist Christine R. Yano was given one major correction by Hello Kitty owners Sanrio (via LA Times):
"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. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."
Indeed, after rigorously applying a variation of the "Duck test," it all became clear: she only kind of looks like a cat, she doesn't walk like a cat, and she doesn't talk like a cat (although I can't recall her ever making a noise). She's also, according to Yano, British. Huh.
Fear not, though! We did the research, and Keroppi is still a frog.
Update August 28th, 9:25AM ET: Sanrio has issued a statement to Kotaku in an attempt to clarify what Hello Kitty actually is — and it turns out that things only get even more confusing from here. "It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat," a spokesperson says. "Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat." Basically, Hello Kitty is not not a cat, but Hello Kitty still isn't a cat either.
The author of the original LA Times article followed up her story by pointing out that Sanrio has actually been arguing this before now. In a set of usage guidelines for Hello Kitty's image, Sanrio states specifically that animal references should not be used in reference to her. "Hello Kitty is not a cat, she is a girl," it says.
Don't let this news shatter your entire worldview, though. There are still plenty of famous animals that are, in fact, animals.
We can confirm, Snoopy IS a dog.— PEANUTS (@Snoopy) August 27, 2014
IT'S OKAY HELLO KITTY FANS, KITTY PURRY IS A CAT.— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) August 28, 2014