Why Isn’t the Cat in the Chinese Zodiac

Why Isn’t the Cat in the Chinese Zodiac?

The Chinese Zodiac, also known as Shengxiao, is a twelve-year cycle that assigns an animal to each year. These animals are believed to have a significant influence on people’s personalities and life events. However, you may have noticed that one popular animal, the cat, is missing from this zodiac. So, why isn’t the cat in the Chinese Zodiac? Let’s explore the origins and legends behind this decision.

The cat’s absence from the Chinese Zodiac can be attributed to an ancient folklore tale. According to the legend, when the Jade Emperor summoned all the animals to a meeting to determine the zodiac, the cat asked his friend, the rat, to wake him up early so they could go together. However, the rat, being cunning, tricked the cat and left without waking him up. Consequently, the cat missed the meeting, and as a result, he was not included in the zodiac.

This legend explains why cats and rats have a contentious relationship, as cats hold a grudge against rats for their betrayal. It’s worth noting that in Chinese culture, cats are generally known to be unlucky and associated with evil spirits. This perception might have further contributed to the cat’s exclusion from the zodiac.


1. Why isn’t the cat in the Chinese Zodiac?
The cat is not in the Chinese Zodiac because, according to folklore, it was tricked by the rat and missed the meeting where the zodiac signs were determined.

2. What animal replaced the cat in the zodiac?
The rat replaced the cat in the Chinese Zodiac due to the rat’s cunning nature and betrayal of the cat in the legend.

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3. Are cats considered unlucky in Chinese culture?
Yes, cats are generally associated with bad luck and evil spirits in Chinese culture.

4. Do all cultures have zodiac signs?
No, not all cultures have zodiac signs. The Chinese Zodiac is specific to Chinese culture.

5. How are the Chinese Zodiac signs determined?
The Chinese Zodiac signs are determined by a twelve-year cycle, with each year being associated with a different animal.

6. What is the significance of the Chinese Zodiac in Chinese society?
The Chinese Zodiac is believed to influence people’s personalities, compatibility, and life events in Chinese culture.

7. Are there any other animals missing from the Chinese Zodiac?
No, the cat is the only animal that is missing from the Chinese Zodiac. The other eleven animals in the zodiac are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

In conclusion, the cat’s absence from the Chinese Zodiac is rooted in an ancient folklore tale where it was tricked by the rat and missed the meeting. This legend, combined with the belief that cats bring bad luck, has resulted in the cat’s exclusion from the zodiac. Nonetheless, the Chinese Zodiac continues to be an important cultural aspect, influencing various aspects of people’s lives in Chinese society.