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 more than 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 (shown below) gained more than one million views in its first two weeks.
On April 12th, the Tosh.0 blog  posted the Nyan Cat video, as did 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.
Slipknot's Psychosocial Video
YouTuber xDaZJMx commented on the original Nyan cat video by saraj00n telling viewers to watch Slipknot’s Psychosocial (muted) with the Nyan cat song playing in the background. The comment instructed other YouTubers to play the Nyan Cat video and hardcore rock band Slipknot's "Psychosocial" music video simultaneously in sync, which virtually resulted in a Nyan Cat audio dub (mirror below, left).
xDaZJMx's instruction quickly gained hundreds of likes, was featured as the highest comment, and many users began flooding the Psychosocial video’s comments with Nyans. As of April 26th, 2011, Slipknot's "Psychosocial" music video page on YouTube has over 111,000 comments, with tens of thousands reading "NYANNYANYANYANYANYANYANYANYANYANYANYANYA" (example below, right). This caused confusion among Slipknot listeners, and further spread the Nyan cat meme.
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.
Many game developers began to create assorted Nyan Cat games, such as "Nyan Cat Lost in Space," "Snake Nyan Cat," "Nyanicorn (Robot Unicorn Attack variant)," "Nyan Cat Fly" and more. A site listing all the Nyan Cat games while also hosting one of its own is located at Nyan-Cat.com. Some Nyan Cat games have also been released onto the mobile platform, enabling use on various smartphones. A small tech demo of Nyan Cat that will work on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) has also been created, It currently runs on NES emulators.
Nyan Cat has also been referenced in "Buffalo Bison Revenge". The game, developed by Juicy Beast Studios, uses in-game items, held by gummies, to temporarily benefit the player. One item is a poptart that causes the player to turn into a poptart bison and fly for a few seconds, trailed by a rainbow.
PBS LulzSec Hack
On Sunday, May 29th, the PBS website was hacked by the group "LulzSec", and several of the website properties were defaced with Nyan Cat related images. The group claims the hack was a reaction to the Frontline episode called "Wikisecrets", that some felt was biased against Wikileaks. LulzSec released the following statement explaining the motivations behind the hack:
Greetings, Internets. We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed. We decided to sail our Lulz Boat over to the PBS servers for further… perusing. As you should know by now, not even that fancy-ass fortress from the third shitty Pirates of the Caribbean movie (first one was better!) can withhold our barrage of chaos and lulz. Anyway, unnecessary sequels aside… wait, actually: second and third Matrix movies sucked too! Anyway, say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they're sailing next time.
Nyan Cat Progress Bar
On June 16th, 2011, YouTube enabled a custom flash player for the original Nyan Cat video that showed an animated mini Nyan Cat flying across the progress bar with a rainbow trail. A screen shot was posted to Reddit the same day. On 5th of July 2011, YouTube made a global update on video player user interface and to everyone's disappointment the Nyan Cat custom progress bar was permanently removed.
Also quite remarkable are the efforts made by some developers to recreate YouTube's progress bar and integrate it to different operating systems as a fancy replacement for some user interface elements. On June 24th, 2011 InstantElevatorMusic (@instantelevator) released Nyan Cat Progress Bar, a modification for Windows default progress bars.
Also, on 19th of July 2011, Nikos Lykousas (@dummydev) released NyanSliders for jailbroken apple devices, a tweak which aims at replacing any slider in iOS with an animating Nyan Cat leaving rainbow trail, just like the original YouTube progress bar.
On June 27th, 2011, the original saraj00n video was taken down by Youtube, claiming that they had received a copyright claim to the video from Prguitarman (shown below, left). However, Prguitarman stated on his own site that he did not file any claims, and that he is contacting several people who have contributed in any way to the video to begin filing a counter DMCA to have the video restored (shown below, right).
Funny how someone can easily make a complaint but to actually prove it the owner has to jump through all of these hoops. FUN TIMES! But seriously, there is a lot of work involved here and it’s pretty stressful.
Meanwhile, people are flagging my videos on Youtube and giving me death threats just like upstanding Internet citizens usually do. Good job.
Anyway, I’ve been working at this for about two or three hours and have done the most I can for now. Saraj00n, Daniwell, and Youtube have been contacted and I am just now waiting for each of their replies so we can work on getting the video back up.
On June 28, 2011, YouTube restored the video after having confirmed that Prguitarman had not filed a claim, and restored everything from the original video including the custom Nyan Cat seek bar. However, because of Youtube's interface update on July 5th, the custom seek bar has been removed.
Nyan Cat To-Go Bookmarklet
In July 2011, New York University student (@blackrabbit) introduced a javescript bookmarklet allowing the browser user to summon Nyan Cat at anytime and anywhere online.
On the evening of November 1st, 2012, Chris Torres tweeted out a series of messages, telling the story of Marty's life. In December 2010, he adopted the gray cat along with a brown and white cat he named Buster, after Buster Bluth from the comedy series Arrested Development. Soon after the two were adopted, Buster was diagnosed with Feline infectious peritonitis, a disease that attacks the animal's white blood cells, and passed away soon after. In late October 2012, Marty was diagnosed with the same disease and his condition quickly worsened. At approximately 9pm on November 1st, Marty passed away in Torres' arms. The default animation on Nyan.cat was changed to Sad Nyan Cat, showing the Pop-Tart Cat with his eyes closed and without his rainbow.
Nyan Cat NFT Sale
On February 18th, 2021, Nyan Cat's original creator Chris Torres sold a Nyan Cat NFT on the digital art marketplace Foundation for 300 ETH, about $587,658 at the time, following a 24-hour auction. Shortly after, Torres tweeted his reaction to the sale of the historic meme NFT (seen below).
On February 22nd, 2021, Know Your Meme then interviewed Torres about the NFT and sale where he shared his reaction and thoughts on meme crypto art (shown below).
Interview with Know Your Meme
On February 18th, 2021, Know Your Meme interviewed Chris Torres for the 10-year anniversary of the meme where we retraced the origins and discussed the Nyan Cat NFT just before it was sold (seen below).
 Prguitarman.com (via Wayback Machine) – I did NOT file a copyright complaint to Youtube about the Nyan Cat video / Posted on 6-27-2011