Some cats use their legendary nine lives for good. Others, well. . .
Cats’ resilience has fascinated and perturbed humanity since the first clawed couch of ancient Egypt. Anyone who’s been kneaded to the point of bruising or had their flesh rasped off in the name of grooming knows how one-track-minded a cat can get. Clearly, Mr. Johnson was not a fan of his yellow-furred housemate.
Harry S. Miller, a popular songwriter from the late 1800’s, wrote The Cat Came Back in 1893. It became his best-known song and was featured in vaudeville shows around the country. Like many of its contemporaries, the original song contained racial overtones as was in fashion at the time. The cat’s outrageous adventurous spirit hasn’t gone away, but the song has lost it’s racial components and been sanitized for modern audiences’ sensibilities. In the original, even the cat’s ghost comes back after an unfortunate encounter with an organ grinder. Director Cordell Baker and animator Richard Condie teamed up in 1988 to produce a delightful, award-winning cartoon version of the song complete with new twists and a surprise ending for Mr. Johnson and his perseverant feline friend.