play cat and mouse

play (a game of) cat and mouse

1. to repeatedly try to make someone react in a way that will cause them problems Enemy warplanes have been playing a deadly game of cat and mouse, trying to bring American fighter planes into range of their missiles.
2. to try to find someone who is hiding from you Border agents played cat and mouse with people trying to enter the country illegally.
Etymology: based on the way a cat plays with a mouse before killing it
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

play cat and mouse

to try to defeat someone by tricking them into making a mistake so that you have an advantage over them (often + with ) The 32-year-old actress spent a large proportion of the week playing cat and mouse with the press.
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

play cat and mouse

Amuse oneself or trifle with, toy with, as in She loved to play cat and mouse with an admirer, acting by turns friendly, indifferent, and jealous . The analogy of a cat toying with a helpless mouse was drawn centuries earlier, but the precise term dates only from the early 1900s.
See also: and, cat, mouse, play
References in periodicals archive ?
There's a climbing wall, a spring board and other stuff and we usually play cat and mouse.
PIRATE mice are plaguing HMS Belfast this May Day in a children's event called Play Cat and Mouse running from April 22 to May 2.