The Kitten Bowl debuted on the Hallmark Channel back in 2013 as an animal-loving pregame show held on Super Bowl Sunday. Exactly as it sounds to be, the Kitten Bowl is a mock football game featuring 100 kittens. All of the kittens that participate have been rescued and are up for adoption. Clearly, it’s a truly adorable show of kitty love.
Since that very first showing five years ago, TV personality, author and animal advocate Beth Stern has been the host. It’s a natural for this particular animal lover.
For many years, Stern has been a devout volunteer at North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York. Since 1944, North Shore Animal League has worked in rescuing and adopt out defenseless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. She is also the organization’s national spokesperson.
Not surprisingly, Stern actually practices what she preaches—having adopted five adult cats of her own and fostered more than 550 cats and kittens in her New York City home. This is all since hosting the very first Kitten Bowl five years ago. She’s written two children’s books about her fluffy white cat who’s named Yoda, and she has an Instagram devoted exclusively to animals available for adoption (currently with 395,000+ followers). People also frequently email her about the animals they see there.
“I get hundreds of emails a day and personally read every one,” stated Stern, who will be hosting the Kitten Bowl once again this year. “I forward the ones I think are good to the North Shore Animal League.”
If someone is approved for an adoption, she went on to say, “I personally deliver the kitten.” While she tries to keep these personal deliveries to within a two-hour radius of New York City, she says, “I have flown kittens to Florida, and just last week I made the seven-hour drive to Pittsburgh; I’m from Pittsburgh.”
According to Stern, since its inception, the Kitten Bowl has actually helped place more than 10,000 adoptable animals in homes. So, how does that math work?
“In addition to the 100-plus kittens competing in the game event that all get adopted immediately,” she goes on to say, “we also hold Kitten Bowl parties all across the country.” These particular parties are held at other shelters and rescue organizations nationwide; the locations of these “parties” are listed on the North Shore Animal League’s website as partner programs.
This year, many of those partner events are happening right on February 2, based on the listings on the North Shore Animal League site. Those actually include adoption happenings in the following locations:
Agoura Hills, California
Aiken, South Carolina
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Belington, West Virginia
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, Nevada
Salt Lake City, Utah
Note: This is mere sampling of the locations. Many cities and states are having multiple Kitten Bowl V adoption events. Use this link to search by zip code to find an adoption opportunity near you.
This year’s Kitten Bowl is a bit different than the others, says Stern. That’s because the kittens available for adoption are from storm-ravaged states which were affected this past year. “All the kittens are from hurricane areas in Houston and Florida,” she states, “and we follow the backstories of the kittens.” This was possible because there were mobile camera units already in those particular areas during the storms, which were able to capture the rescues in real time.
A few of the kittens featured this year are considered to be special needs, including one of three that Stern fostered before the Kitten Bowl.
“One of my foster kittens named Sunny, she was stuck in a fence during Hurricane Irma and she survived,” Stern states. However, for her to be rescued and freed from the fence, her left leg needed to be amputated.
Other special needs kittens appearing in the Kitten Bowl include those missing an eye.
“Sometimes kittens are born with a virus and need to have their eye removed,” she says. Stern says that while those kittens are not playing in the game, they are supporting their teammates.
To Stern, there is no difference at all between a cat with four legs and two eyes and a cat that may be missing a limb or eye.
“I have two resident cats that are completely blind, and you would never know it,” she states. “Our house is quite large, and they have mastered every inch of it. They’ve never missed their litter box, they eat at normal times with the other cats, and yesterday I found one of my blind cats walking down the banister. They’re fabulous pets.”
While the Kitten Bowl clearly focuses on kittens, Stern also points out that other adoptable animals are there, too.
“We always feature adult cats in the Kitten Bowl,” she states, “and we have puppies cheering on the sidelines.”
Be sure to visit the Hallmark Channel website to determine when the Kitten Bowl will be broadcast in your area.