The great debate between dog and cat lovers may still be roaring, but for those who land on the feline side, The Kitten Bowl is just for you! Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl VI will be hosted by author and animal advocate Beth Stern, and this year marks a milestone of more than 25, 000 shelter pet adoptions since the event premiered in 2014. We spoke to Stern about her work with the North Shore Animal League, and her passion for all things small and furry. Read our interview below, and be sure to watch Kitten Bowl VI on Sunday, February 3rd at 2/1c.

How did you first become involved with the North Shore Animal League?

I’ve been working with North Shore Animal League for almost 15 years! It started when I was modeling in New York, and I got a call from my booker asking about a fashion show. They wanted to know if I would volunteer my time for the organization, and I said yes because I’ve always been an animal lover. We had a runway show holding puppies! I didn’t leave the runway until every puppy was adopted, and I think they recognized my passion. I’ve been volunteering ever since, and then I became their national spokesperson. Here we are 15 years later, and they’re still my heart and soul!

People often play favorites between cats and dogs. What are some myths about cats, in particular, that you hope to put to rest?

I just think some people say, “I would never want a cat because they’re so independent,” or, “They’re not like a dog.” All five of my cats greet my husband and I the second we walk in the door! Until you have a cat and experience that kind of love, I don’t think you’d believe they can act like that. And they’re so easy! I love dogs equally, but cats are so much easier.

I think there’s also a lot to be said about adopting an adult cat. When you go to the shelter, and talk to the adoption counselors you can tell them, “Listen. I want a cat that just sleeps all day and doesn’t greet me at the door, because it’s too much pressure,” and you can learn about their different personalities. I think that’s the beauty of adopting an adult!

Absolutely! And senior pets are often overlooked. 

Yes. Sadly they usually have lives full of love, and then something tragic happens. So they’re just sitting in a cage, not understanding, and looking for their person. It’s heartbreaking!

The Kitten Bowl is all about entertainment and fun, but I’m also wondering what some of your personal goals are in relation to the event?

Well, the best part about what we do, is that every cat, kitten, puppy, and dog that’s showcased during The Kitten Bowl, will be finding forever homes! And really, it’s saving lives and finding homeless pets forever homes—that’s what it’s all about for me.

Do you have any advice for first time cat or kitten owners?

Open your heart to the idea. When you bring them home, your life is going to change. Keep their litter boxes clean, feed them fresh water every day. That’s my husband’s thing! He puts fresh water out every time he walks past their water bowls. I think that’s so important!