1809, from Tom + cat (n.); probably influenced by Tom the Cat in the popular children's book "The Life and Adventures of a Cat" (1760); replaced earlier Gib-cat, from diminutive of Gilbert, though Tom was applied to male kittens c. 1300. The name also is used of the males of other beasts and birds since at least 1791 (such as tom-turkey, by 1846). Also see Tibert. The verb meaning "to pursue women promiscuously for sexual gratification" is recorded from 1927. Related: Tom-catting.