Cat-hletes Compete in Kitten Summer GamesHumans are not the only athletes on the planet to compete in the Olympics. In fact, the Hallmark Channel thinks cats are just as athletic and need their own dedicated tournament to show their prowess in sporting activities, too. So, taking the global stage this year, the family entertainment television network is debuting its very first ‘Kitten Summer Games’ to coincide with the real Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And the feline Olympians who are participating in this historic event, according to the Associated Press are not only able, but “fleet of foot (and) shockingly flexible and fearless on the high bar.”

Following up on they previous success . . .

Hallmark made the decision to hold its very own ‘Olympics’ after testing the waters with their now-popular Kitten Bowls, which has been staged for the last three years to coincide with the Super Bowl.

The Kitten Summer Games is said to feature approximately 90 cat-hletes. The contestants will perform in “plaza,” outfitted with a highly scratchable gymnastics stadium and a track-and-field venue appointed with enough feathers and toys on sticks to keep the action animated.

It’s appropriate that these competitors were all shelter kittens provided by North Shore Animal League of America to demonstrate to underscore the fact you don’t have to be a pedigree to compete. The TV special was shot in April, when Beth Stern (shock jock Howard Stern’s wife) served as the sidelines ‘fairy godmother and Olympics regular spokesperson Mary Carillo helped co-host the individual events.

So how does a Kitten Olympics differ from the Rio deal?

Well . . . “unlike a lot of other professional athletes, they kind of take their sweet time,” Carillo noted on the set. “All of a sudden in the middle of a big event there’s a cat nap. They don’t know the rules. They don’t care. They kind of just freestyle it at an awful lot of these events.”

As a result, the events come down to the ‘cuteness’ factor more than anything else. Stern is an experienced networker when it comes to securing homes for cats who are homeless. She and her husband have taken in more than 200 foster cats over the last couple of years.

Rio is Carillo’s 13th straight turn as Olympics reporter, analyst and commentator . . . but during this paw-fect event, she was simply all about the cats.

As far as replicating any of the controversies associated with the Russians this year pertaining to purrrr-formance enhancing substances, these kittens have been exposed to one herb they just can’t get seem to get enough of. “I tell you what, they’re not afraid to dip into the catnip? I’ve noticed that myself,” Carillo joked. “You’ve gotta keep an eye on them. They’re animals, and they’re bloodthirsty competitors.”

So if the human-version of the Olympics doesn’t float your boat, you just might want to tune in or catch these shows “On Demand’ to see your favorite cat-hletes compete in such disciplines as the Rythmic Catnastics, the 100cm Cat Dash and the Whisker Slalom. It's gonna be a cat-hartic experience for cat-lovers, for sure  . . . as long as all parties stay clear of those hair-balls!