All Images Courtesy of Victoria Schade
By Victoria Schade
Sure, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl is all about the puppies, but cat fans can get their fix during the adorable Kitty Halftime Show. I’ve worked on the Puppy Bowl as the lead animal trainer for years and have been lucky enough to work with all the feline athletes as well. Watching them strut their stuff on the field is always a highlight of the event.
The day starts out in the holding area, where the kittens have ample opportunity to stretch out and limber up as well as take care of their–ahem–duties before hitting the field.
Everyone loves to get their cuddle on and take photos, but some kittens are so focused on nailing their Puppy Bowl halftime routine that they can’t be bothered by the “puparazzi.”
That’s me—with two feline stars—working on the celebratory cake shot. After a test run with the twins in my arms, we decided that it was best to let a solo kitten have her spotlight moment. Of course she nailed it on her very first attempt!
Being on set during this shot was a tad stressful because there’s a line of precariously perched dominoes right in front of us. One wrong move—by human or feline—could send the whole thing toppling.
The kittens take to the field as last-minute adjustments are made to the set and lighting. They don’t seem to care about the humans in the way—they’re ready to play!
The set is filled with a variety of cat toys, but there were definitely a few favorites. The motorized feather and butterfly toys were huge hits, as always.
Sometimes it only takes a second to go from bystander to participant. Ready … set … POUNCE!
Not every kitten wants to strut the field. Some prefer to hit the catwalk and show off their floorwork—like these two lounging feline stars.
The whole team loves it when the kittens get up close and purr-sonal with us. We’ve got volunteers and staff at the edge of the stage ready to lend a helping hand …
… or a cuddling shoulder if necessary!
The kitten skybox looks huge on screen, but it’s actually a small elevated stage. It only fits two humans but can handle a dozen hard-partying kittens at a time.
During the skybox scenes, I am sitting on the ground below the open window trying to encourage the kittens to come to the edge and “watch” the game. It’s a fine line between getting them to play with me and preventing them from leaping out!
It may have been the Puppy Bowl, but these purrfect kittens made the Kitty Halftime Show magical!
Want more of the Puppy Bowl? Check out 8 Things You Didn't Know About the Puppy Bowl