Cat-and-mouse



Also called cat and rat. a children’s game in which players in a circle keep a player from moving into or out of the circle and permit a second player to move into or out of the circle to escape the pursuing first player.
Western U.S. tick-tack-toe (def 1).
play cat and mouse, to engage in a gamelike relationship in which evasion and pursuit are used:
They played cat and mouse for a while before she consented to go out with him.
play cat and mouse with,

to toy or trifle with.
to use strategy on one’s opponent, especially while waiting to strike:
The detective played cat and mouse with the suspect.

Contemporary Examples

The revelations in October began a game of cat-and-mouse between the Demon Killer and the police.
‘I Will Commit a Massacre’ Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky February 24, 2013

He became suspicious and so began what he refers to as a “cat-and-mouse game” between him and his former agency.
How Models Get Robbed on the Runway Jennifer Sky May 6, 2014

Meanwhile, I don’t know what happens to the employees, who are the mouse in this cat-and-mouse game.
Counting Full Time Employees Megan McArdle January 17, 2013

Their cat-and-mouse game will definitely continue to be a central point.
‘Homeland,’ ‘Revenge,’ ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and More: Where We Left Off Jace Lacob, Maria Elena Fernandez September 9, 2012

So Western governments are caught in a cat-and-mouse game and at times it is unclear who is the cat and who the mouse.
ISIS Has a Message. Do We? Jamie Dettmer December 7, 2014

Historical Examples

Did it mean that, after all, he had been playing at cat-and-mouse with her, as she had at first feared?
The White Moll Frank L. Packard

Evidently, he must play the cat-and-mouse act about the piles of supplies and machinery.
Panther Eye Roy J. Snell

She had been playing with him––playing with him cat-and-mouse fashion.
Once to Every Man Larry Evans

At least, I haven’t got that cat-and-mouse kind of patience.
Regiment of Women Clemence Dane

It was like playing a game of cat-and-mouse with him, Wilson Lamb, the cat.
Hooded Detective, Volume III No. 2, January, 1942 Various

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