In ancient times, the jade emperor who is the emperor of the heavens in chinese mythology ordered animals to have a race. The winner would be remembered as calendar signs as a means for people to measure time.
But only 12 can fill the spot in the calendar. Hearing this, all the animals were excited and signed up for it. The race route was then designated and the last hurdle was to cross a rapid current river.
At that time, the Cat and the Rat was the best of friends and agreed to be in the race together. Though the cat was concerned that he might sleep in on the day of the race, the Rat reassured him that he would wake the Cat up.
On the day of the race, the Rat was so excited he went to the gathering place without waking the cat up. Seeing all the big, eager contestants he remembered the cat but in fear of starting late, he stayed on.
He thought of an idea to ride on one of the other bigger animals and figuring that the Ox would be dumb enough but strong enough to win the race, he offered the Ox a song. The Ox happily accepted and then the mouse sang so softly that the Ox said to sing on his head instead. Mission accomplished thought the mouse, that when he got on top of the Ox the mouse sat quietly on it until the Ox actually forgot all about the Rat.
The race then began, all the animals scurried to win. Except the pig who got hungry and went to eat. The dragon was in the lead because it flew, but he saw a village on fire so he made a pitstop to help them bring rain. The Monkey, Rooster and Goat made a three man team and cooperated to get over all the hurdles.
The snake had sneakily rode on the horse like the Rat did with the Ox and the Dog was just a Dog and likes the run. Near the end of the race, at the river.
The tiger was first to arrive. He swam and swam, but the rapids was annoying him at least that was his reason. So the Ox, overtakes the tiger at swimming and right at the finish line, the mouse jumped of the Ox’s head and crossed the finish line first. Surprised, the Ox was second and annoyed at third was the tiger.
Boing boing boing, the rabbit came 4th by jumping on stones no one felt like using. The dragon came fifth after saving a village on fire, solving a draught in another and helping the rabbit with a huff of air sending it to shore first.
The horse must have used a different route because it was galloping gallantly towards the finish line when the snake lunged forward startling the horse. That makes 6th for the snake and 7th for the horse.
Riding a raft, the three friends combined their strength and finished in 8th for the Sheep, 9th the Monkey and 10th the Rooster.
The dog finally came to its senses that he played too long in the river, got to the shore and won 11th place. After some time, thinking that no more animals was coming to claim the 12th, came the Pig after taking his time eating and napping in the middle of the race.
What happened to the Cat? Well, he woke up too late and now forever holds a grudge with the Rat. This is only one rendition of the story on how the 12 chinese zodiac came to be do you know the others?