Nyan Cat is the name of a YouTube video uploaded in April 2011, which became an internet meme. The video merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart for a torso, flying through space, and leaving a rainbow trail behind it. The video ranked at number 5 on the list of most viewed YouTube videos in 2011.
On April 2, 2011, the GIF animation of the cat was posted by 25-year-old Christopher Torres of Dallas, Texas, who uses the name “prguitarman”, on his website LOL-Comics. Torres explained in an interview where the idea for the animation came from: “I was doing a donation drive for the Red Cross and in-between drawings in my Livestream video chat, two different people mentioned I should draw a ‘Pop Tart’ and a ‘cat’.” In response, he created a hybrid image of a Pop-Tart and a cat, which was developed a few days later into the animated GIF. The design of Nyan Cat was influenced by Torres’ pet cat Marty, who died in November 2012 from feline infectious peritonitis.
Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! by daniwell (January 2011 Momomomo version)
An excerpt from the song
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The original version of the song “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” was uploaded by user “daniwell” to the Japanese video site Niconico on July 25, 2010. The song features the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku. The Japanese word nya is onomatopoeic, imitating the call of a cat (equivalent to English “meow”).
On January 30, 2011, a user named “Momomomo” uploaded a cover of “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” featuring the UTAU voice Momone Momo. The voice source used to create the Momone Momo voice was Momoko Fujimoto, a Japanese woman who lives in Tokyo.
YouTube user “saraj00n” (whose real name is Sara) combined the cat animation with the “Momo Momo” version of the song “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!”, and uploaded it to YouTube on April 5, 2011, three days after Torres had uploaded his animation, giving it the title “Nyan Cat”. The video rapidly became a success after being featured on websites including G4 and CollegeHumor. Christopher Torres said: “Originally, its name was Pop Tart Cat, and I will continue to call it so, but the Internet has reached a decision to name it Nyan Cat, and I’m happy with that choice, too.”
In March 2019, ownership of the YouTube channel hosting the original Nyan Cat video was transferred to Means TV, a socialist video streaming service.