play cat and mouse with

play cat and mouse

1. To engage in a suspenseful relationship in which one is being pursued and one is the pursuer. The marshals and the fugitive have been playing cat and mouse for months now, but they may finally have him cornered.
2. To play with or tease someone before turning violent or vicious, likened to the way a cat toys with a mouse before killing it. If we have any hopes of getting the prisoner to crack, we need to play cat and mouse now, in the early stages of the interrogation.
3. To play a game in which children stand in a circle and raise their arms to let one player into the middle and then lower their arms to keep out a second player, who is chasing the first. Let's play cat and mouse! I'll go first—everybody else, circle up!
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

play cat and mouse with someone

Fig. to be coy and evasive with someone. I know what you are up to. Don't play cat and mouse with me! I wish that they wouldn't play cat and mouse with me!
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

play cat and mouse with

manoeuvre in a way designed alternately to provoke and thwart an opponent.
The image here is of the way that a cat toys with a mouse, pretending to release it and then pouncing on it again.
See also: and, cat, mouse, play