Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl teams vie for purring rights
This photo provided by Crown Media Family Networks shows kittens playing football in a scene from the Hallmark Channel's "Kitten Bowl II," airing on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. (AP / Crown Media Family Networks, Menachem Adelman)
LOS ANGELES -- Football tampering is inevitable when felines take the field Sunday in Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl - a four-team playoff to promote the adoption of shelter animals.
The channel says kitties simply can't help the fact that claws and balls don't go together.
"Our issues tend to be more related to the size of the `yarnage' markers on the `kitiron' and, of course, the length of their milk breaks," said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media Family Networks.
In other words, cute trumps controversy when fluffy, big-eyed kitties are involved, just as it should.
"Kitten Bowl II" kicks off at noon EST, starting with semifinal matches between the Northpole Panthers and Hallmark Channel Hearties, and the Good Witch Wildcats versus the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Mountain Lions. The winners then play for ultimate purring rights.
Hallmark goes for giggles as well, with "quartercats" dubbed Tawny Unitas, Ryan Fitzcatrick and Joe Montuna.
John Sterling and Mary Carillo host the big game, with Boomer Esiason serving as Feline Football League commissioner.
The kitty contest isn't the only televised alternative to Sunday's Super Bowl match between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
Fish Bowl II is on the Nat Geo WILD channel (6 p.m. EST) and there's Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl (3 p.m. EST) that kicked off the trend and is in its 11th year. The latter also promotes pet adoption.
Viewers lap it all up. Last year's Puppy Bowl drew 13.5 million viewers, with the inaugural Kitten Bowl watched by 1 million. That's not the 2014 Super Bowl's 112.2 million viewers, but it beats a bowl of kibble.