play possum

When you play possum, you play dead. If your cat has an alarming habit of pretending to be dead, you can say that she likes to play possum.

You can also use the phrase play possum to mean "play stupid," or pretend not to understand what's going on. It's been a fairly common saying since the early 1800's, and it comes directly from the nocturnal possum's habit of faking its own death in order to fend off predators.

Definitions of play possum
  1. verb
    to pretend to be dead
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    type of:
    affect, dissemble, feign, pretend, sham
    make believe with the intent to deceive
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