Why You Should Spend Sunday Watching the Adorable Kitten Bowl

Aubry D'Arminio
kitten bowl
Marc Lemoine/Hallmark Channel

No one, and we mean no one, is getting the catnip-filled ball past Mr. Slippers (of the team Boomer’s Bobcats) during Sunday’s Kitten Bowl III. But that doesn’t mean some other silly kitties won’t try (the North Shore Lions are pretty tough). We talked to three-time host, pet advocate and all-around animal lover Beth Stern of the North Shore Animal League (she’s also Howard Stern’s wife), about the year’s biggest catfight.

"Kitten Bowl" is a feline catstravaganza presented in association with North Shore Animal League America (the nation's largest no-kill shelter and animal adoption organization) and Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation. Hosted by Beth Stern, TV personality and national spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America, "Kitten Bowl" is a star-studded lineup that includes legendary New York Yankees radio voice John Sterling and award-winning reporter, sports analyst and commentator Mary Carillo as "Kitten Bowl's" official play-by-play announcer, and Boomer Esiason as the Feline Football League's (FFL) Commissioner. Photo: Boomer Esiason, Beth Stern Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

Marc Lemoine/Hallmark Channel

Beth Stern (right)

Why should people watch the Kitten Bowl?
Oh my god, how could you not! It’s the cutest hours on television you’ll ever see. This year we have more kittens, and we incorporated adult cats. We’re throwing Kitten Bowl parties around the country at all our partner shelters and holding adoption events. And we also did something really different: Our Halftime Special is Puppies vs. Kittens. We have kittens and puppies out on the field. It’s a first for the Kitten Bowl. It could be the cutest thing I have ever witnessed in my entire life.

Are there any standout players?
Yes, after the taping I took home a litter of five kitties because they were still too young to be adopted out. There was this little polydactyl with six toes. He looked like a little mess of a kitten, yet he was a star. He was the tiniest of all the kittens on the field, yet he was the biggest brute out there. He was adorable! My husband named him Turtle.

What do you say to people who claim they don’t like cats?
I feel like people who say that have never had a cat. My husband and I have six resident cats in our home right now, and it’s so much fun. They are really great pets, and they’re definitely a lot easier than dogs. I’m a dog person as well—I love cats and dogs equally. But I’ve got to say, there’s something about not having to wake up in the morning and take your dog out, you know?

What’s your latest project at North Shore?
We just raised the money to expand the shelter another 15,000 feet and we’re waiting on permits. Our cage-free cat habitat and feline wellness center will be built soon—and that will free up the entire downstairs for more puppy and dog rescues. It’s all part of the Bianca’s Furry Friends project I started a couple of years ago—in honor of our dog that passed away.

What’s your own pet situation now?
We’ve fostered well over 200 cats in the last 2 ½ years. Right now, we’re fostering two blind kittens and an adult cat who just had major surgery. There was an adult cat that was in a shelter for way too long, so she’s here in our house now. Once I post photos of the fosters on my Instagram, they become little rock stars, and I already have adoption applications for every single one of them, even the blind ones. There is also a kitten we got last week—somebody cut off the tips of her ears with scissors, threw her in a garbage bag, sealed it and tossed her in a dumpster. Luckily, someone walked by and heard her crying and saved her. She’s heartbreaking to look at. The North Shore Animal League treated her and she’s been in our home for a week now. Howard named her Miracle!

Kitten Bowl III, Sunday, Feb. 7, 12pm/11c, Hallmark Channel