| Here's the Original Story....
A long time ago, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals together to determine their order in the yearly cycle. When the Cat heard the news, he let his friend the Rat know about it and the two animals decided to go together the next day. However, the next day the Rat did not wake the Cat who, being a cat and loving to nap, slept through the morning. Therefore, the Cat did not make it to the assembly on time and did not get a year. This is why there is no year of the Cat and this is also why cats hate rats.
The Rat, on the other hand, made it there first and received the first year. He did not achieve this without trickery either. He knew that a small animal like him would not be able to compete with the others, so he begged the Ox to let him ride on its head. The Ox consented and they went together. Just when they were about to arrive, the Rat jumped off the Ox's head and got through the finish line first. This is why the year of the Rat is the first year in the cycle.