Fur will fly and turf will tear as Hallmark Channel's most agile (and adorable) cat-letes step onto the gridiron this coming February for Kitten Bowl VII, America's most beloved feline football event. Running up against this year's Super Bowl, as it has for the past seven years, viewers can watch these energetic and mischievous kittens score touchdowns, tackle one another, and even receive penalties for roughhousing. But this annual event is so much more than a catstravaganza of cuteness; it's an opportunity for Crown Media to use its marketing prowess to help end pet homelessness and encourage adoptions, giving these kittens the fur-ever homes they so desperately need.
Viewers with a greater affinity for animals than sports often tune in to the Kitten Bowl VII for more than the fun of watching kittens romp — or nap; many will be watching in support of animal adoption. It's a passion fans share with Beth Stern (pictured above), the host of Kitten Bowl VII and spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America, a leader in the "no-kill" shelter movement. Having cared for more 1,000 pets over the years and dedicating herself to encourage pet adoption from shelters rather than mills, Stern embodies Hallmark's Adoption Ever After initiative, which seeks to inform audiences about the plight homeless animals face, as well as encouraging them to adopt.
During the taping of the event, Stern explained why potential pet parents should strive to adopt, not shop: "You're saving lives; you don't need to buy [pets]," especially when that money might contribute towards the unfortunate circumstances of animals bred in puppy and kitten mills.
North Shore Animal League America teams up with Hallmark Channel to present the Kitten Bowl each year, which features just a handful of the countless adoptable kittens filling shelters across the nation. And the timing is purr-fect. The event's August filming aligns with a very real problem shelters are faced with every year: "We're in the height of kitten season right now," Stern explained, "so shelters are full to capacity."
She also encourages pet parents to consider senior and special needs pets — animals that are frequently overlooked by adopters. Kitten Bowl's primary goal — and by proxy, Hallmark and North Shore's — is to spur viewers to take action and adopt an animal desperately in need of a loving home. And their strategy has been met with definitive success.
Thanks to the Kitten Bowl franchise, more than 25,000 animals have found forever homes, including dogs, cats, and even rabbits; this, Stern told me, is her favorite part of the event. "Every year, we find out the numbers at the end [of it] …. I ask how many adoptions we made, and that number goes up every year." This is owed not only to the program's popularity, but also because of North Shore's mobile adoption units. These "adoption centers" on wheels can comfortably bring adoptable pets to public, high-traffic areas, resulting in countless successful adoptions.
Despite this glowing victory towards ending animal homelessness, Stern asserts that "it's not about the numbers; it's [about] organically finding loving homes for these animals."
It's also about getting pet parents and non-pet owners alike involved in supporting shelters and ending pet homelessness. For those unable to adopt, Stern recommends volunteering at shelters, donating money or supplies, and attending North Shore's events and galas.
As the filming came to a close, Stern gave a final call to action, "Let's save more lives this year!" When Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl VII airs in February 2020, she is paws-itive we all will.
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