CLASSIC HOAXES: The Bonsai Kittens Prank!

There are so many prank stories which are painstakingly put together just to make them seem believable. Out of the oh-so-many hoaxes there are about, there’s one which seems to have been created in a couple of hours by its creator. Yet its reach was massive. The man behind the Bonsai kitten website hoax assumed his site would almost immediately deemed a joke. However, animal rights activists did not find it amusing and that’s why the Bonsai kitten got its reputation, once it was rumbled as a more ‘controversial’ hoax.

It was launched as an online site where you could apparently place orders for tiny ‘Bonsai’ kittens to be grown and reared inside jars. The site’s operating principle was based on Japanese Bonsai plants which are renowned for their miniature size.


Some might smile at the site’s explanation as to how the kitten will be fed inside the jar (through a feeding tube), some might grimace. There were even pictures of kittens being led into the jars. Animal rights activists, and those easily affected by the thought of tiny kitties being kept in jars, were horrified at the prospect.

The only information available points towards a Dr. Michael Wong Chang as responsible. There was a site trace made which indicated the author of the website was an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) student. Due to complaints, MIT complied with authorities to have it shut down immediately.


Due to the uproar that it created, the FBI also investigated the matter. The result: they were not able to pin Chang down for creating the site. However, they also found no real malicious intent. This means that, unsurprisingly, the creator did not really plan to grow the kittens inside a jar, and there was no trace or records of any actual Bonsai Kitten sold in jars or out.

Dr. Chang created the site as a satirical response to ‘the human belief that nature is a commodity’. The creator was even surprised at the global reaction that his website caused. Well, animal rights advocates certainly saw it in a different light.


Even 14 years after it was created, the site continues to receive hate emails. The original site was shut down from the MIT’s university server but there were other servers willing to host it. It became a cycle. There would always be a new server wanting to host

It is doubtful that the creator of the site intended to encourage animal cruelty, and most intelligent viewers will be able to take the site for what it is – a bit of fun. However, if they do start selling cute kittens in jars, we’ll be front of the queue!

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