We're sure some people were excited by the news Friday that the Hallmark Channel will be launching a kitten-themed competitor to Animal Planet's immensely popular (but apparently speciesist) Puppy Bowl come halftime next February. We are not those people. We are going to come out and say it right here: Kitten Bowl will in no way as be as endearing as the Puppy Bowl. Never could've been.
Some background: Kitten Bowl, according to a Hallmark press release, will be annual. It will be presented in conjunction with the American Humane Association. It will stream at home. Hallmark's "top tier Original Movie talent" will seve as judges, referees, and trainers. (So Kellie Martin will definitely participate, right?) It will stream live. Home viewers will vote for the Most Valuable Kitten. And all the kitties will compete in some sort of feats of agility thing. "In a typical feline agility contest, acat would complete between six and fourteen obstacles, with winning cats completing thecourse in ten seconds or less," the release explains. "In 'Kitten Bowl,' however, the competitors are kittens and anyform of cuteness is the key to the game."
We understand Hallmark's end game here. One, they obviously want to capitalize on Puppy Bowl success. Two, cats are cool. (Check out the inset meme that Hallmark just made to go along with its hip new press release.) Three, the network probably thought the Puppy Bowl was being a bit discriminatory by relegating the kittens to the halftime show. While we admit that we, too, are somewhat speciesist, we hold firm to our belief that Kitten Bowl will not work.
Kittens are difficult. We've learned recently from the cat actors on Broadway in Breakfast at Tiffany's that cats are hard to work with. They are notoriously diva-ish. (We are purposefully ignoring the counter argument involving Helen Mirren's troublesome corgi.) In Maura Judkis's Washington Post story about the filming of the Puppy Bowl, she describes what happens when you put kittens on camera:
The kittehs are placed on the set, which is outfitted with a circus-like jungle gym of scratching posts, hidey-holes, blowing tinsel, wagging toys, gyrating toys, rotating toys and a blast of catnip. Despite the performance-enhancing drugs, the cats are subdued.
“Cat fishing ain’t going so hot today, guys,” said one of the 13 volunteers tasked with entertaining the cats with fishing-rod toys. No one’s biting, it seems.
That's not to say the kittens aren't cute, but whereas you can make a dog do tricks and have it go viral, cat videos are mostly successes because cats do silly things. You can give a puppy some toys and it will go nuts. A kitten could just say: screw you. That's just how cats are. They are jerks sometimes! Just look at the number of kittens that are sitting it out in the Puppy Bowl halftime show. They're kittens. They couldn't care less.
So there. We condone Kitten Bowl's existence. We admit that, at times, kittens are cute. Still, we remain loyal Puppy Bowl supporters.
Update: We got an adorable, pun-filled statement from the Puppy Bowl people over at Animal Planet:
You’ve GOT to be kitten me! With the record-breaking success of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl, our famous Kitty Half-Time Show and the huge viewership for our new live Kitten Cam, we're not surprised by a “copy cat”. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We’re just happy that pet adoption is being promoted and more animals are finding their fur-ever homes.