The cunning rat, as folklore tells it, made it to become the first animal of the Chinese horoscope by piggy backing on another animal's effort.
What happened was the legendary Jade Emperor invites 12 animals to participate in a race across a river to determine their positions on the Chinese calendar.
However, the rat used brain rather than brawn - he hitched a ride on what it perceived was the mightest swimmer. Just before the buffalo reached the other bank, the rat jumped off the buffalo's back and crossed the finish line ahead of the poor buffing beast.
An interesting episode is that the cat was one of the original 12 participants.So why is it missing from the Chinese Calendar? Well, the ratty fellow told the cat that the race would be held at another time. When the cat failed to show up for the race, the Jade Emperor sent his official to earth to grab the first animal that he saw - which happened to be a pig being carried to market by a farmer. When the cat eventually realised that it had been tricked out of celestial fame, it swore to gi rat hunting forever...
.... extract from STARMAG by Andrew Sia