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Nyan Cat or Pop Tart Cat

What does Nyan Cat mean?

Nyan Cat, or Pop Tart Cat, refers to a cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart body and a rainbow behind it, flying through space, set to the tune of a Japanese pop song. The phrase itself can refer to the video, the cat, or the song that accompanies it, depending on the context.

image of Nyan Cat

Where does Nyan Cat come from?

The Nyan Cat video was first posted to YouTube on April 5, 2011. The original GIF came from artist Christopher Torres’s website. The name Pop Tart Cat comes from him, since that’s what he originally called it. The animation itself is a piece of pixel art of a cat flying through space with a Pop-Tart body, followed by a trail of rainbows.

Nyan Cat emerged as this meme’s name only after the video, which paired the Japanese song “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” with the animation, emerged. Youtuber saraj00n was responsible for the combination. The lyrics of the song consist largely of the word nya or nyan, which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for a cat’s meow. Presumably, this inspired the title of the video and the subsequent title of the meme.

A few things to note…

Nyan cat has become a meme thanks to the popularity of the video. Business Insider named it one of the top ten viral videos of April 2011. It’s no wonder photographs of cats in rainbows, photoshopped images of kittens and Pop-Tarts, image macros, and remixes have abounded under the Nyan Cat name. Video games and merchandise have been made of Nyan Cat as well. References to the video, the song, and the animation of the cat itself can be made for humorous purposes.

The website nyan.cat plays the animation continuously, tracks the amount of time that the user has been on the site, and also features variants of the original Nyan Cat, including one with a taco body and another that flies a pirate flag instead of a rainbow behind it.

A popular variant of Nyan Cat is Fiesta Dog, which features a taco-bodied dog streaming taco ingredients and running to “Mexican Hat Dance (Original Party Mix)” by Arriba brothers.

For example…

“.@YouTube is blocking cat videos now. CAT VIDEOS!! What's next? Nyan cat because of its rainbow tail? #youtubeisoverparty #LoveIsLove”

Charlotte @MissCharlez Twitter (March 20, 2017)

“Happy 6 (SIX) years anniversary Nyan Cat!
Feeling old yet?”

Roxana Teodora Facebook (Wednesday, March 22)

“@toastydoodles lmao i was just thinking of tron. Hes light trail would be all nyan cat style w rainbows n stuff”

heidryn.exe @ironypistol [SS] (March 12, 2017)

This is not a formal definition of Nyan Cat like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Nyan Cat that will help you expand your word mastery.