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As we approach the Chinese New Year of the Sheep, occuring this year on February 1st, I thought I'd share a little Chinese myth in the vein of master storyteller Rudyard Kipling.

I call it

Why the Cat hates the Mouse

A long, long time ago, before the days of Tom and Jerry and Itchy and Scratchy, the Jade Emperor of Heaven decreed that there would be a twelve year cycle in the Chines Lunar Calendar, and each cycle would be named after a particular animal. To decide which animal would correspond to which year, he declared a race, and the first 12 animals to arrive would be given the honor of adopting a year in the cycle.

Naturally, this announcement greatly excited the denizens of the Animal Kingdom and all prepared hastily for the coming race. Ox and Rabbit paced each other everyday, while Dragon and Tiger argued as to who was faster. Even Pig got into the act, so excited were they.

Cat and Mouse were longtime neighbours and both were looking forward to the race as well. However, Cat kept boasting that he would arrive first in the race, for who was smarter, faster and sharper than he? This rather infuriated Mouse, who himself eyed the chance to be the "patron" of the first year in the cycle.

On the night before the big race, Cat approached Mouse and reminded him once again of who was likely to win the race. Mouse just shrugged it off, he was sick and tired of Cat's arrogance. Cat was naturally unhappy, and threatened Mouse, who fled for his life. Cat then fell into a deep sleep, exhausted from all his training.

The next morning, Mouse awoke and prepared for the big race. He was about to wake Cat too, but recalled the events of the previous night and decided not to. Instead, he reached the starting point and began racing with the rest.

Less than several yards into the race, Mouse realised that he wasn't likely to win at all and requested for Ox's assistance to protect him from being trampled. The kindly Ox fell for Mouse's pleas and carried the little animal on her back.

Before reaching the end of the race, however, Mouse suddenly leapt off Ox's back, and dashed for the finish line. Mouse had won the race!

Ox was naturally rather upset and started making a big commotion. This woke Cat, who realised that he had missed the race. Blaming Mouse, the vengeful feline hunted Mouse down and is still chasing him today.

And that is why Cat hates Mouse.

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