A bowl of their own: Kittens to compete on Super Bowl Sunday

Hallmark Channel
Two cats eye a football during the production of the "Kitten Bowl," airing this year on Super Bowl Sunday.Crown Media United States LLC / Today

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By Danika Fears

For nine years, NFL-averse canine lovers have turned to Animal Planet’s ‘Puppy Bowl’ for an afternoon of adorable competition during Super Bowl Sunday. But this year the Hallmark Channel is offering a bit of counter-programming for the counter-programming: the first annual ‘Kitten Bowl.’

The game is set to be a star-studded affair, with Howard Stern’s wife Beth Ostrosky Stern and radio sportscaster John Sterling hosting and a slew of TV personalities (including TODAY’s own Hoda Kotb) showing up to cheer on the tiny felines. 

Four teams have been pitted against each other: the Cedar Cove cougars, Home and Family felines, North Shore bangles and Last Hope lions.Crown Media United States LLC / Today
Special guests at the 'Kitten Bowl' include Regis Philbin, Rachael Ray and Nicky Hilton.Crown Media United States LLC / Today

If these photos are any indication of what's to come, the competition will be nothing short of fierce. All of the rescue cats, which hail from the North Shore Animal League America, have been sorted into teams based on their coat colors. 

There will be two preliminary playoff rounds before the final showdown, as well as three hours of warm-up play featuring hurdles, tunnels, and hoops to whip the kittens into shape. The cats score points by getting the ball to the end zone — and being cute, of course. 

Filming of the Kitten Bowl is already well underway, and viewers will get a glimpse of the big show on Dec. 1, when the Hallmark Channel uploads preview clips to YouTube. That way you can get those predictions ready ahead of the final broadcast on Feb. 2 at 12 p.m. ET. 

Behind-the-scenes footage will include player profiles, locker room commentary and adorable shots of resting players.Crown Media United States LLC / Today
All of the 70 kittens taking part in the competition are between 8 and 12-weeks-old.Crown Media United States LLC / Today

All of the kittens will be up for adoption when production wraps up in just a few days, so if you're really smitten with one of the competitors, make your play very soon.