In the sense that Goofy is 'not a dog' while Pluto is.
Or it could be lazy reporting with a sensationalist click bait attitude by the L.A. Times - a different perspective from Kotaku:
"When Kotaku called Sanrio's Tokyo headquarters today and asked whether or not Hello Kitty was indeed a cat, a spokesperson explained, "Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat.""
Ceci n'est pas une chatte
Hello Kitty is a posthuman, who warped herself into her current mouthless, kawai-feline form after she could no longer endure her lonely existence as a baseline-human otaku.
Cloaked in her nearly featureless, childish, benign form, unable to offend or to be offended, she could at last venture out into the world, beloved by all.
Does Charmmy her cat have a cat, and does that cat think that Charmmy is a cat?
Come to think of it, it's kind of hard to imagine Hello Kitty hunting and eating a chipmunk, or coughing up a hairball.
It really doesn't matter what we think she is. It only matters what she thinks she is. Has anyone even bothered to ask her? Well?!
but is she a kitty?
"Culture clash. Culture clash. Please. Accept the mystery."
♫ Hello Kitty ♫
♫ She's the kitty ♫
♫ What's got no mouth ♫
Not if you imagine a really, really cute hairball.
Many years ago I was greatly amused by a collection of Hello Kitty alphabet images in the Subgenius art mines. Glad to see they are still there...
I assume that she is related to Miss Kitty:
The resemblance is uncanny. Which means that her full name should be "Hello Kitty Russell"
Look everyone, she's just British, that's all.
Awww, she almost horked one up on my cell phone...
I'm going with Sanrio's explanation, she is their IP, after all. Also, the Wikis are rather specific in naming her breed as Japanese Bobtail.
She's a rabbit, sufficiently modified to not lose court cases brought by the creators of Miffy.
The article I read on the CBC has both of the following quotes:
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.
It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat.
The proper headline would be, "Creator of Hello Kitty believes that people think Hello Kitty is a literal cat - an actual living mammal in the real world - and feels the need to correct this."
Got another one: "Creator of Hello Kitty assumed anyone interested in whether Hello Kitty was a cat must be two years old. Wanted to be clear about distinction between reality and fiction."
But more likely: "People baffled by language and cultural mix-up"