Cat-and-mouse Definition

Of or designating behavior like that of a cat toying with a mouse; specif., of or designating a strategy by which one repeatedly challenges an opponent while waiting to strike.
Webster's New World
Playfully or teasingly cruel, as in prolonging the pain or torment of another.
The cat-and-mouse tactics of the interrogators.
American Heritage
Of or involving a suspenseful and sometimes alternating relation between hunter and hunted.
American Heritage
Alternative form of cat and mouse.

(idiomatic) A relationship in which two parties closely monitor and challenge one another in a suspicious or self-protective manner, often because each party is attempting to gain an advantage over the other.

The Allied and the enemy submarine played a game of cat and mouse on checking up on each other's whereabouts and supposed strategic plans.
The hackers played a cat and mouse game with the computer's system administrators: The hackers kept trying new tricks, and the system administrators kept mounting electronic defenses to prevent damage and catch the hackers.
  • cat and rat

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