The Cat Came Back (1988 film)

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The Cat Came Back
Directed by Cordell Barker
Produced by Richard Condie
Cordell Barker
Written by Cordell Barker
Starring Richard Condie
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada
Release date
  • June 22, 1988 (1988-06-22)
(With Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Country Canada
Language English

The Cat Came Back is a 1988 animated film by Canadian director Cordell Barker, produced by fellow award-winning animator Richard Condie in Winnipeg for the National Film Board of Canada. It is based on the children's song "The Cat Came Back".

In May 2017, the NFB and Canadian publisher Firefly Books announced that the film would be adapted into a children's book.[1]


The film portrays the increasingly desperate efforts of the elderly Mr. Johnson to rid himself of a small yet extremely troublesome yellow cat that will not leave his home. He first tries to leave the cat in the woods only to get lost himself. An attempt to drown the cat at sea ends in him nearly drowning. He then tries to send the cat away in a hot air balloon, but winds up getting dragged into the sky himself when he cuts the balloon free. For his fourth attempt, Mr. Johnson tries to take the cat away on a pump trolley, running over many damsels in distress and even a cow tied to the train tracks until he hits a bug crossing the railroad track, causing the trolley to jump the rails and send him plummeting into an abandoned mine where he is attacked by rats, snakes and bats. Not only does the cat find its way back each time, but it becomes increasingly destructive after each attempt until Mr. Johnson finally has enough and tries to blow up the cat with a large pile of dynamite only to blow himself up instead when he accidentally lights his hair on fire. Thinking himself finally rid of the cat, Mr. Johnson's spirit proceeds to tease his foe when his human remains fall on top of it, killing it and releasing all nine of its lives to bedevil Mr. Johnson for all eternity.


The film garnered over 15 awards, including a Genie Award for Best Animated Short,[2] as well as an Academy Award nomination.[3] It was also chosen for inclusion in animation historian Jerry Beck's 50 Greatest Cartoons, placing at #32.[4] It was also included in the Animation Show of Shows.

Mr. Johnson and the cat were later used in two adverts for Hula Hoops.


  1. ^ "From screen to page: National Film Board of Canada forays into book publishing". Winnipeg Free Press. The Canadian Press. 2017-05-29. Retrieved 2017-05-30. [dead link]
  2. ^ "The Cat Came Back". Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  3. ^ Cuthbert, Pamela (2003). "Cordell Barker". Canadian Film Encyclopedia. The Film Reference Library. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007. 
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Turner Publishing. ISBN 1-878685-49-X. Archived from the original on 30 September 2005. 

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