Cato was established in 1830 and is the oldest settlement in the southeastern section of Rankin County. Long before the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad came through the area, Cato was said to be an important trading post,boasting four stores, two saloons, and a rock warehouse. Its settlers came from Georgia and the Carolinas.
The first post office was opened at Cato in May 1857 and one of its first postmasters was Frank Martin. Cato Springs Baptist church, founded in 1854, was named for a free flowing spring found at the foot of the hill.