Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor thought there should be a way of telling time. On his birthday, he announced to the animals that there would be a race of whoever could cross the river first. The first 12 to cross would have the years named after them.
Before the race started, the cat and the rat, who were good friends, asked the Ox if they could ride on his back, and the Ox let them. Then the race began!
When the Ox was near the end, the rat pushed the cat off into the river then jumped off the head of the Ox and got first place!
The Jade Emperor saw that the rat was first, and named the first year of the Zodiac after him. The Ox came second and had the second year named after him.
The tiger came next, and had the third year named after him.
Next came the rabbit, and had the fourth year named after him.