Why no zodiac year of cats?

According to the story of the Chinese zodiac, 12 animals were selected by the Jade Emperor through a race. The rat was the first to arrive followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and finally the pig. In return, the zodiac year was named after each of them. The cat was too late to catch up with the big race held by the Jade Emperor because of the rat. 

Too late to be named after

This is only a folk tale. Legend aside, according to historical records, domestic cats were introduced to China through Buddhist exchanges from the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) to the early Sui Dynasty(581-618AD). The earliest record of cats in China is a portrait of a “Domestic Cat Hunting Down The Rat” in an East Han Tomb. It was not until the Tang and Song Dynasties that domestic cats are gradually becoming popular.

The concept of 12 zodiac animals is established near the end of the Warring State period (475 BCE – 221 BCE) before the popularization of cats, therefore no wonder that the cat is not one of the Zodiac signs.

However, the tiger is on the “12 zodiac animal list”, and the tiger is the largest member of the cat family (Felidae), so it can be regarded as a “large cat” on the list.

Cat instead of the Rabbit in Vietnam

In Vietnam, there is the cat instead of the rabbit as a zodiac animal. People whose zodiac is “rabbits” in China will become “cats” in Vietnam. An explanation is that when twelve zodiac signs were established, rabbits had not been introduced, so “rabbit” became “cat”. 

Mao (猫)


Another explanation is that the ancient Chinese word for rabbit is ‘mao’ (卯) which sounds like ‘meo’ (猫)in Vietnamese, which means cat.

That is to say, rabbit(卯, sounds mao) become mao(read like a cat) for a long time in Vietnam.

The zodiac signs in Vietnam are Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Site design / logo © 2020-2022 Guide to Chinese Astrology - Dicover Your Fate!