Thousands of years ago, there lived a kingdom in the forests of Africa. During every beginning of year, it organised a race for animals as a way of celebrating the New Year.
The first 12 animals to finish were to be honored and exempted from some communal work, and have a year named after them. Many animals, small and big registered for the event.
The cat and the rat both late risers went to sleep after a long day of training but asked the ox to wake them at dawn on the day of the race.
There came the day of celebration, 1st January. So, the ox tried to wake the cat and the rat, but they were so tired so that they failed. They would only open their eyes, turn to the other side of the bed and fall a sleep again.
It took ox a while waking them up and the race was about was about to start. Therefore, unwilling to leave them, the ox carried both onto his back and started running.
While racing, the rat woke up just as the ox was crossing the last hurdle, a river. The silly rat knew that he could never beat the cat in the race. So, he took this chance offered him and pushed the cat off the ox’s back.
Surprisingly, when the ox reached the other side, the rat jumped off and hurried to victory, just ahead of the ox. The tiger came third, but he cheated.
He crossed the river by using the backs of the animals swimming across as stepping stones, leaping from one to another.
So the ranking and honoring of winners till the 12th animal begins with the rat. After him comes the ox who is followed by the tiger.
After them come the rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. The cat, it must be noted, has no place in the rankings. She wasn’t among the first twelve.
In fact she was lucky to finish, having almost drowned in the river after a push by the rat. After the race, the cat wondered how the rat had won and honored to miss communal work.
The ox explained to him the whole story and what the rat had done to him. The cat angrily chased the rat. So is it any wonder that cats chase rats?
They can never forget the humiliation heaped on their ancestor by a tricky rodent!