The Cat Came Back

Sheet music cover, 1893.

Here we have Cisco Houston's adaptation of "The Cat Came Back", published by Harry S. Miller in 1893, recorded by Fiddlin' John Carson on OKey in 1924 and many others since.

The original version was absorbed into the folk tradition and spawned hundreds of variations and a wonderful little animated film from the National Film Board of Canada. Cisco's tune and many lyrics are his own. The date of this song is clearly indicated by the mention of "Cape Canaveral" which was renamed "Cape Kennedy" in 1963.


Well old Mr. Johnson had troubles all his own
He had an old yellow cat that wouldn't leave home
Tried everything he knew to do to get the cat to stay away
Even took him up to Canada and told him for to stay

But the cat came back, the very next day,
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back
`Cause he wouldn't stay away

Well they give a boy a dollar for to set the cat afloat
And he took him up the river in a sack and a boat
Well the fishin' it was fine till the news got around
That the boat was missing and the boy was drowned...

But the cat came back . . .

Well the farmer on the corner said he'd shoot him on sight
And he loaded up his gun full of rocks and dynamite
The gun went off, heard all over town
Little pieces of the man was all that they found...

But the cat came back . . .

Well they finally found a way this cat for to fix
They put him in an orange crate on Route 66
Come a ten ton truck with a twenty ton load
Scattered pieces of the orange crate all down the road...

But the cat came back . . .

Now they gave him to a man going up in the balloon
And they told him for to leave him with the man in the moon
Well the balloon got busted, back to earth it head,
And seven miles away they picked the man up dead...

But the cat came back . . .

Well they took him to the shop where the meat was ground
And they dropped him in the hopper when the butcher wasn't 'round
Well the cat disappeared with a blood-curdling shriek
And the town's meat tasted furry for a week...

But the cat came back . . .

Well, they took him to Cape Canaveral and they put him in a place
Shot him in a U.S. rocket going way out in space
Well they finally thought the cat was out a' human reach
Next day they got a call from Miami Beach and...

But the cat came back . . .

At the risk of being upstaged, I submit to you the movie, by Cordell Barker.

The Cat Came Back by Cordell Barker, National Film Board of Canada