His full name, "Tom Cat", is based on "tomcat", a phrase which refers to male cats. He is very rarely heard speaking with the exception of a few cartoons (such as Tom & Jerry Tales' League of Cats) and "Tom and Jerry: The Movie". His only notable vocal sounds outside of this are his various screams whenever he is subject to pain or panic. He is continuously after Jerry Mouse, for whom he sets traps, many of which backfire and cause damage to him rather than Jerry.
Tom has changed remarkably over the years upon his evolution, especially after the first episodes. For example, in his debut, he was quadrupedal and had normal cat intelligence. However, over the years (since the episode Dog Trouble), he has become almost completely bipedal and has human intelligence and he is similar to his previous appearance, in 1945 short he had twisted whiskers and his appearance kept changing. As a slapstick cartoon character, Tom has a superhuman level of elasticity. Tom is usually defeated (or very rarely, killed, like in The Missing Mouse, where he explodes) in the end, although there are some stories where he outwits and defeats Jerry.
Anchors Aweigh & Dangerous When Wet
Tom and Jerry appeared together in the 1945 Technicolor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical Anchors Aweigh where Tom briefly appears as a butler for King Jerry, the latter who has a dance sequence with Gene Kelly, and also in another musical with the same studio Dangerous When Wet (1953), where, in a dream sequence, main character Katie Higgins (Esther Williams) does an underwater ballet with Tom and Jerry, as well as animated depictions of the different people in her life
Over his years as a housecat, Tom has multiple owners, varying in different cartoons.
- Mammy Two Shoes (1940-1952, Tom and Jerry Tales (majority of episodes))
- Nancy (Baby Puss and Tom and Jerry tales episode Don't Bring Your Pet To School Day)
- King of France (The Two Mouseketeers, Royal Cat Nap)
- Ship's captain (Cruise Cat, Puss 'n' Boats)
- Johann Strauss (Johann Mouse)
- Ranch cook (Posse Cat)
- Joan and George (Pet Peeve, Mouse for Sale, The Flying Sorceress, Busy Buddies, Tom's Photo Finish, The Vanishing Duck, Tot Watchers)
- Clint Clobber (Down and Outing, High Steaks, Sorry Safari)
- Sea captain (Dicky Moe)
- Thin white lady (Saturday Evening Puss (1960s reanimated version), Buddies Thicker Than Water, The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse, Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry)
- Astronaut (O-Solar Meow)
- Unnamed man (The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, The Mansion Cat)
- Robyn Starling (Tom and Jerry: The Movie)
- Chip the wizard (Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring)
- Rick and Ginger (The Tom and Jerry Show (2014 TV series))
He is a cat whose breed is still unknown to this day, which is strange considering how long the series has been running. He is mostly bluish gray in color with white paws and a light-blue belly. He also has a tail that is white at the tip. He is sometimes also colored dark blue, but this was only in the earlier episodes.
- Frames Spike for stealing the chicken from the refrigerator in Tom's Photo Finish
- Pins the blame on Spike Bulldog for the mess in the house and aggressive behavior and gets him thrown out of the house in Spike Gets Skooled
- Terrorizes Nibbles/Tuffy and swats him on the behind with a flyswatter in The Milky Waif
- Attempts to eat Jerry's animal friends, such as a duck, a goldfish or a canary
- Attempts to eat Jerry Mouse on certain occasions
- Captures Jerry's Mermouse friend to sell her to a museum for money in Tom's Mermouse Mess-Up,"
- Attempts to steal gold from Jerry's claim along with Butch Cat in 24 Karat Kat
- Antagonizes his fellow competitors in the Fabulous Super Race in Tom and Jerry: The Fast and Furry
- In Tom and Jerry: The Nutcracker Tale, As one of the evil Cat King's captain, he (along with the other alley cats) crashes Jerry's party, imprisons La Petite Ballerina in a birdcage and traps the toys. He also gathers his troops to try to stop Jerry and his friends from reaching the star
- In the NES game Tom and Jerry: The Ultimate Game of Cat and Mouse, he kidnaps Jerry's nephew Tuffy and locks him up in the attic trunk, leading to Jerry Mouse to come to his rescue
- His name Tom Cat is most likely a parody of Tomcat, a term used for male cats.
- He also has a compassionate side and sometimes cooperate with Jerry, when the situation depends on it.
- Occasinally, Tom is the underdog when the conflicts between him and Jerry are instigated by the latter, often because Jerry is intentionally antagonizing Tom for his own amusement