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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 the body of a Pop-Tart, 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.
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 Nico Nico Douga on July 25, 2010. The song features the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku (初音ミク). The Japanese word for the sound cats make, "nyā" (にゃ), is the equivalent of the English language word "meow".
A user named "Momomomo" ("もももも") uploaded a remixed version of the song "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!", adding the repeating vocal sound "nyan" throughout the song, to Nico Nico Douga on January 30, 2011. The added vocal sound was created using the singing synthesizer software UTAU with the voice preset, "Momone Momo" (桃音モモ). The voice source used to create the Momone Momo voice was Fujimoto Momoko (藤本萌々子), 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."
The Nyan Cat music video reached ninth place in Business Insider's top ten viral videos of April 2011, with 7.2 million total views. The original YouTube video has received 90,589,691 views as of January 1, 2013 [update]. Due to its popularity, many new remixes and cover versions have been made, some hours long. There are also ringtones, wallpapers and applications created for operating systems and devices including Windows, iPhone, iPad, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, and HP webOS. "Nyan Cat Adventure", by 21st Street Games, is an officially licensed game.
Christopher Torres criticized the website
nyan.cat, which originally featured a similar-looking cat with the same background music. The site, which uses the .cat sponsored top-level domain, was described by Torres as "plagiarized". The website is now operated by Torres, and shows the authentic version of the cat.
On June 27, 2011, the original YouTube video was taken down from the site following a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from someone claiming to be prguitarman, the creator of the GIF animation. Christopher Torres immediately issued a statement on his website LOL-comics denying that he was the source of the complaint, and contacted Saraj00n and daniwell, who hold the copyright for the video and the song, in order to file a counter-complaint to YouTube. During the period that the video was unavailable, Torres received numerous abusive e-mails from people who wrongly believed that he had filed the DMCA complaint. On June 28, 2011, the video was restored to YouTube.