The Cat Came Back is a fun, silly song that kids love. Here are several piano arrangements, plus guitar tabs in two keys. Additionally, I like to use the VERY EASIEST arrangement (near the bottom of the page) for vocal students who have difficulty matching pitch. The repeated notes in this song help them cement the notes in their memory. And that version only uses FIVE NOTES - which makes it attainable for near-beginners (see down at the bottom of the page for that 5-note arrangement).
From "The Learning Station":
With its great repeating bass line, this song is a natural for guitar - but in both keys, there is one hard chord! The key of Am uses an F chord, and the key of Em uses a B chord. Both are hard for beginners, but this is good practice:
In Am, the tab (melody) is more easily played if your left hand remains loosely in an Am chord shape. I have played this as a trio with 2 other guitar players, with one on melody, one playing a bass line (a, g, f, e on string 5 and 6), and the other on chords. It's fun!
The piano solo arrangement has nice energy:
The hard thing about this melody, of course, is the way it drops down a 4th from the tonic over and over again. One solution is to allow the left hand to take that note, if the arrangement will allow the left hand to be there. With this arrangement, above, that could work, the left hand thumb playing B below Middle C just before the Em chord each repetition.
Two lead sheets for other instruments (or piano!):
(If you choose the Dm lead sheet, you'll find that a left hand descending bass line accompaniment is SO SIMPLE - and it's identical to the line found in Erie Canal, which even beginners tend to master, though it isn't technically beginner level to put that changing left hand together with a melody. They work at it because it's fun.)
For beginning piano, here is a shared-hands melody arrangement:
Here is page one of ALMOST the same melody, but with a few alphanotes to help out. What's different about the melody? These oh-so-slightly-altered melodic lines fit entirely in the 5 fingers of the right hand with no movement required! This is the arrangement I use with beginners.
THIS IS A GREAT practice piece for doing left hand bass note plus chords, as I make all piano students do with I Love the Mountains. (Left hand plays a low "E," for example, then comes an octave higher and plays a full Em triad.) If they can play hands together oom-pah chords with I Love the Mountains, then they can do The Cat Came Back just the same way! That's one good reason for dropping any extra notes that fall outside of the 5-finger position. The hand coordination required is a major step forward for many students, and both of these songs provide enough fun to inspire the hard work!
First, I have kids play the chord names only: "E.... D... C... B..." while I play the melody. After they get the pattern, then I make them play the triads with their right hands. TRICK-Y! Em and C are easy; but D and especially B are not - but probably your students will have encountered these chords before, if you are doing transposing work with them.
Then, they put both hands together. Now we have a duet, with them playing a secondo, in effect. It is so repetitious that they will learn it well. In a few weeks, when they have learned the melody REALLY WELL, they will do all of that secondo with just their left hand, and put the song hands together!
The following sheet is a greatly simplified version of the melody - most of the skips (thirds) have been removed:
I have used this simplest arrangement for new voice students who have trouble hearing and matching pitch.
Here's a fun recording from Laurie Berkner that stars a very sweet LIVE kitty: