cat and mouse
- 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.
Origin of cat and mouse
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.