A cat and mouse by the names of Jasper and Jinx fight around the house before the cat is threatened to be thrown out if he breaks another item.
The camera shows a mouse (Jinx) attempting to run but getting nowhere, then zooms out and reveals a smug, superior cat (Jasper) holding Jinx's tail so that he cannot move. The cat pulls back Jinx's tail, opens his mouth, and releases him such that he will run into Jasper's mouth. Jinx spots the trap, brakes in time, and runs toward his mouse hole, but Jasper catches him with his tail. Jasper tosses the mouse into the air, who lands on the cat's tail, then runs down the cat's body until he has to stop once again just in front of the cat's mouth. Jinx dashes off and Jasper waltzes behind him innocently, hops in front of the door and opens his mouth. Jinx runs in this time, but rolls out of the cat's mouth on his tongue. Jasper begins a chase and then sees a better idea: he runs down an adjacent hallway and sets up a quick trap. The cat dips his finger in ink, paints a fake mouse hole on the wall, and pulls down a sign that says "HOME SWEET HOME". Jinx spots this and attempts to enter the hole, but to no avail, inadvertently knocking himself out. Jasper then revives the poor mouse with a dash of water.
Jinx recovers and soon notices that something is next to him. He feels the cat's head and grabs an eyelid; promptly, Jasper opens his eye and hoists him up. Jinx then jabs the cat in the eye; Jasper shrieks in pain and retaliates by giving chase. However, by chasing Jinx around a corner, he runs into a Greek pillar and breaks it. His owner, a black woman named Mammy Two Shoes, quickly arrives and scolds Jasper for his unacceptable behavior. Jasper attempts to tiptoe away but is soon nabbed under Mammy's broom. She shows Jasper the mess he has made and subsequently makes one last threat that forms the basis for the cartoon: "Now, understand this, Jasper: if you break one more thing, you is goin' out, O-W-T, out! That's clear, ain't it? One more breakin', and you're goin' out! Now, get outta my sight before I get mad!"
Punctuating her last line, Mammy pushes the cat away with her broom. Jasper creeps away, but soon runs into a table. The cat sees a vase falling from it and rushes over to save it; although he succeeds, he soon spots the mouse laughing at him. Jasper crawls over the floor malevolently, and Jinx gets out of the candlestick as Jasper runs up onto the table. Before the cat can catch him, the mouse holds out a wineglass from the table and threatens to break it. Jasper skids to a stop to avoid serious trouble, retreats. The mouse nods in delight, but soon sees Jasper running after him once again and renews the threat. This time, Jinx adds a taunt for good measure: he whacks the cat with the glass, who once again is forced to retreat. The mouse then decides to try a different method; with a wink at the camera, he throws the glass down and whistles for the cat, who sees Jerry pointing towards the ground, panics and dashes at the glass, narrowly saving it. With another whistle, more glasses and a tray is thrown by Jinx; Jasper is lastly hit on the head with a decorated plate of flowers thrown by the mouse. Jasper sees Jinx taunting him with one more glass in his hand, and Jasper attempts to throw the plate to the ground in frustration, but realizes this would probably break it and hits himself over the head. Jasper then spots pillows of all sorts on a nearby couch and lays them out, determined to end this threat. As Jinx is marching along the table, Jasper pops his head up next to him, and Jinx's threat fails to affect the cat. The mouse then twists his tail at the cat as if to say "Have it your way", and throws the glass to the floor in total arrogance. Not hearing the crash he expected, he looks down to the ground and sees that the glass fell on one of the pillows, followed by a smug grin from the cat.
Jinx is now forced to flea himself, but Jasper holds down Jinx's tail. After Jinx says a quick prayer ("Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I hope and hope my soul He'll take. Amen."), Jasper gets back at the mouse with a taunt of his own – he lets Jinx go, only to grab a hold of him again seconds later with his own tail. Jasper then tosses the mouse into the air and opens his mouth, expecting to eat the mouse when he falls back down. However, Jinx grabs a china plate on his way down. The plate then drops down onto Jasper instead of himself. Jasper is momentarily stunned, but still catches the plate; however, his troubles only begin as Jinx proceeds to run across the shelf of plates, knocking every one of them down. Jasper sweats increasingly more as he lugs around the stack of plates, then finally manages to stow it against the wall and pants from the weight of the dishes. Jasper is briefly safe, but he soon spots the mouse waving at him from the top of the stack. Jasper can only watch in terror as the mouse throws one more plate down to the ground, and it breaks.
Mammy hears it from upstairs and storms down the steps, proclaiming that she will evict the cat as soon as she gets down. To multiply Jasper's humiliation, the mouse leaps in triumph, then runs down the stack of plates, stomps on Jasper's nose, rolls the cat's eyelids, squirts Jasper's milk on Jasper's back, and even cleans himself with Jasper's tail. The mouse spots Mammy approaching with the broom in hand and knows he must get the job done soon or else he will be seen. The mouse kicks the cat in the rear, which causes him to drop all the crockery and take the entire blame. Jinx flees the scene and dives into his hole just before Mammy hits . Jasper is dragged across the floor by Mammy and before evicting him from the house, she says: "And when I says out, Jasper, I means out. O-U-W-T, out!".
The triumphant Jinx watches his opponent get thrown out, and then spots the "Home Sweet Home" sign used to trick him earlier. The mouse posts the sign by his real mouse hole and nods in confidence that this is the real one as he marches in.
- In the redubbed version (in America and the UK), Mammy Two Shoes (whose voice was changed as it was too stereotypically African-American) correctly spells "Out" as "O-U-T" instead of misspelling it twice as "O-W-T" and "O-U-W-T".
- This short is among one of the cartoons that were censored by the Boomerang TV network in 2006 due to smoking being depicted as condoned, acceptable or glamorised, though there is no smoking in this cartoon and was most likely edited due to the appearance of Mammy Two-Shoes, the black maid.
- The only screen credit on this film was a Rudolf Ising Production.
- This is the first Tom and Jerry short to be nominated for an Academy Award.
- Being produced in 1939, it was the only Tom and Jerry short created in the late 1930s.
- This cartoon was title carded as an MGM Cartoon.
- The un-restored Turner print is the original theatrical version, however, the remastered version by Warner Bros. is a 60's re-issue print with a recreated MGM Cartoon logo without the Technicolor reference which then jump-cuts to the rest of the original opening titles.
- Though Rudolf Ising took sole credit for producing the cartoon, it was later discovered by co-producer Fred Quimby that Ising had little or nothing to do with the production, and that it was entirely done by William Hanna and Joseph Barbara.
- At a little over nine minutes, this is the longest Tom and Jerry short released in The Golden Era.
- After the short, The cat was renamed Tom and the mouse was renamed Jerry at the suggestion of animator John Carr, following a studio contest when MGM green-lit the series.
- "Smoke's no joke for Tom and Jerry", BBC News, August 21, 2006