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The Bonsai Kitten website in November 2005

Bonsai Kitten was an internet hoax that claimed to give instructions on how to grow kittens in bottles as a form of decoration, similar in fashion to a Bonsai tree. Soon after birth the kitten is supposedly placed in a glass container, allowing the kitten to grow to fill the vessel that contains it.

The kitten allegedly breathes through specially drilled holes in the glass and may be fed and expel waste through tubes, and their purpose is supposedly as an elaborate ornament, instead of a pet. While the website is no longer online, mirrors with copies of the website content exist and are generally referred to.

The hoax

Despite a massive negative response and much belief otherwise, the entire site was an elaborate hoax by a group of MIT graduate students.

The site was in part a parody of the Japanese art of bonsai, but also resembles the mythical practice of comprachicos (in which the subjects are human).

The hoax suggested that people could buy the required equipment through the website; this turned out to be entirely false, like the rest of the site. The hoaxer went so far as to create a falsified guestbook on the site, containing user responses, but checking these email addresses proves fruitless, as none of the users are real. Further support for the hoax came in the form of a falsified mailing list.

The original registrant for Bonsaikitten.com was falsely listed with the address for the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University.

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