Nyan Cat, also known as Pop Tart Cat, is an 8-bit animation depicting a cat with the body of a cherry pop tart flying through outer space. While absurd themes like flying kittens and pastry cats have been around for some time, the surreal humor behind this particular combination has captivated YouTubers and online art communities, spawning fan illustrations as well as user-interface designs and homebrew games across multiple platforms.
The Pop Tart Cat animation was posted on the daily comics site LOL-COMICS run by illustrator Chris Torres, also known as prguitarman, on April 2nd, 2011. The original drawing was based on his own Russian Blue cat, Marty, and was drawn after receiving two separate suggestions for a cat and a pop tart during a Red Cross charity drawing event on Livestream. Prior to the Pop Tart Cat, prguitarman had already gained a relatively large audience with a few other instances of comics circulating on the web. The GIF animation was also reblogged via Tumblr on April 2nd, 2011, accumulating over 3,000 notes (likes & reblogs) in its first two weeks:
On April 5th, 2011, YouTuber saraj00n posted a video titled Nyan Cat, using comic artist prguitarman’s Pop Tart Cat animation set to the well-known Japanese Vocaloid song Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya by Japanese artist Daniwell-P looping in the background, Although the song had been originally composed for Hatsune Miku to sing, The version used in the video was of the cover sung by the Utauloid Momo Momone. The video gained over one million views in its first two weeks:
On April 10th, the Nyan Cat video was picked up by popular blogs and social networking sites including Memebase, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, and Facebook among others. Beginning on April 12th, Tosh.0 blog posted the Nyan Cat video, as well as CollegeHumor and G4TV. There are several remixes and spinoff variations of the original video circulating on YouTube, many of them customized with alternative characters and background music. Nyan Cat has been also briefly seen on Sprint’s Nexus 4G “Cats” commercial, which featured a number of popular cat video clips. There’s also a website showing a mash-up animation of Nyan Cat and Speedy Cat.
Nyan.cat was launched on April 13th, 2011, featuring the text “NON-STOP NYAN CAT” and another single serving site Slowbro.org was launched on the next day, featuring a “rainy” version of the original. The flash game version featuring a timer display similar to Nyan.cat was uploaded by Newgrounds user Blind-Bane on April 27th.