On Sunday, Feb. 2, some of the world’s fiercest athletes will square off in the ultimate football battle, with championship aspirations on the line. These gladiators of the gridiron will take the field, size up the competition…and proceed to then go sniff the competition’s butts. That’s right, Puppy Bowl is back! And not just any Puppy Bowl, mind you, but Puppy Bowl X (which, it should be noted, stands for Puppy Bowl 10, as opposed to puppy porn, with inappropriate close-ups of all the players’…ahem, kibbles and bits).
Yes, the Super Bowl Sunday favorite has returned, complete with such bells and whistles as the barking lot (where else for dogs to do their tailgating?), penguin cheerleaders (not really sure what the penguin-dog connection is, but okay), and a brand-new Fantasy Puppy League (wait, are we absolutely 100 percent sure this is not puppy porn?). Puppy Bowl (3 p.m.) has been a smash success for Animal Planet. Last year 12.4 million people tuned in at some point during the day, setting the world record for biggest collective “Awwwwwwww.”
But what about me? I’m a cat guy. I have three feline friends who sit around ignoring me all day while repeatedly showering my couch with urine. Where’s my show? That’s where Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl comes in. Hosted by Beth Stern and featuring incredible player names like Tomcat Brady, Terry Bradclaw, Meowshawn Lynch, and — wait for it — Tim Teepaw, this new “copycat” event will also air on Feb. 2, at 12 p.m.
The whole thing sounds amazing, until you consider one inescapable fact: “You know, you throw a ball out a hundred times, a dog is going to go get it and bring it back a hundred times,” says Kitten Bowl exec producer JD Roth. “You throw the ball a hundred times out to the cat, the cat is going to go get it, oh, that’s right, no times.” However, Roth says they plan to embrace kittens at their kitteniest, including coverage of any and all hair balls as well as prolonged naps on the 50-yard line. (It should also be noted that while performance-enhancing drugs have become a big issue in professional sports, catnip is not — repeat: not — on the banned-substance list for Kitten Bowl.)
Roth admits that “there’s a natural rivalry with Puppy Bowl,” and Puppy Bowl’s halftime entertainment booking of the traitorous Keyboard Cat could spark controversy within the feline population. Or perhaps the kittens will be too distracted by Nat Geo Wild’s just-announced Fish Bowl (also on Feb. 2, at 6 p.m.) to even notice. Regardless, both games promise to be fast and furious (furryious?), and the two sides agree that the ultimate goal of promoting pet adoption for all species makes everyone a winner. “Anyone who wants to get in the game of getting pets adopted is good by us,” says Puppy Bowl exec producer Melinda Toporoff. Kitten Bowl host Stern concurs: “There are so many kittens and cats at shelters now. And that’s the message, really.”
Still, wouldn’t it be cool to see the winners of Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl in some sort of Furry Four-Legged Friends Bowl? After all, the Super Bowl itself began as a contest between rival leagues the NFL and AFL. “That would be the ultimate,” agrees Roth. “But in the end, the beauty is, if the cats don’t win, I don’t think they’re really going to care.” Spoken like a true cat owner.