Starting next year, dog and cat lovers will be equally represented on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The Hallmark Channel has announced that it will be holding its first ever "Kitten Bowl" on Feb. 2, 2014 — a programming move that should surprise no one familiar with the ratings juggernaut that is Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl." According to a release, the three-hour special will feature adoptable kittens competing in a variety of cute challenges, with viewers at home determining the "MVK" or Most Valuable Kitten. The network is partnering with the American Humane Association to promote animal rescue and select the furry competitors. 

“Creating another programming event to reinforce Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project, our corporate pet adoption and safety initiative, enhances the profile of the plight of shelter animals in our country while providing fun, family-oriented entertainment to our viewers. We are very proud of our association with American Humane Association and their support of our work in this area,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO Crown Media Family Networks.

With Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl" as a benchmark, it's easy to see that this is a smart move for both the Hallmark Channel and the AHA. This year's event brought in more than 12.4 million people over its 12-hour loop — scoring the most tweets all day Sunday second only to the Super Bowl. Even better, all of the animals featured (21 kittens from a New York shelter for the halftime show, and 63 puppies from 23 shelters nationwide) were quickly adopted. After hearing the news, Animal Planet was quick to applaud the announcement of the first-ever "Kitten Bowl." 

“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,’" the network joked in a statement. "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.”

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Hallmark Channel to launch 'Kitten Bowl' in 2014
Three-hour television special to air on Super Bowl Sunday will feature shelter kittens competing in a variety of events.