Hello Kitty is not a cat? UPDATE: Well, not so fast ...

Hello Kitty will appear "in person" at the Hello Kitty Con in Los Angeles -- more evidence of the character's ambiguous species identity?

Hello Kitty is not a cat, and she's British.


But wait, this just in -- Hello Kitty is not human either.

Apparently she is ... gasp ... uh ... a cartoon character ... turned merch machine.

The  hubbub started when a University of Hawaii anthropologist, who wrote Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific, told the L.A. Times that Sanrio, the Japanese company behind the feline-ish phenom, insisted, "Hello Kitty is not a cat."

After a bunch of backlash, however, Sanrio has backtracked a bit, telling a RocketNews24 that Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat, the way Mickey Mouse isn't exactly a mouse.

No? Really?

Sponge-Bob isn't really a sponge?

“We never said she was a human," a spokesman said.

He also said, "We never said Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth. ... It’s just not drawn.”

Anthropologist Christine Yano said she was corrected while preparing materials for "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty," the first retrospective of its kind in the world, opening in October at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Yano's understanding: "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."

This created one of those Webstorms full of mock shock and eyebrow twerking. One writer, seeking reassurance, even reached out to Peanuts, which confirmed, yes, Snoopy is a dog.

It didn't help that Hello Kitty is described as a "girl" right here on Sanrio's website, where we're told her actual name is Kitty White, and she lives with her twin sister, Mimmy, and other White people in the suburbs of London. Her favorite food is un-Purina-like apple pie.

Another possible "clue": A poster for a four-day Hello Kitty Con in Los Angeles, starting Oct. 30, says the character will appear "in person." The expo/fanfest will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Perhaps that will be revised to say "in personification."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com. Follow @petemucha on Twitter.