Chinese Folktales

8. Why The Dog and The Cat Are Enemies

A MAN and his wife had a golden ring. It was a lucky ring and whoever owned it always had enough to live On, but they did not know this and sold the ring for a small sum of money. NO sooner was the ring out of the house than they started to become poorer and poorer, and in the end they did not know where their next meal was coming from. They also had a dog and a cat, and these had to go hungry with them. The animals thereupon took counsel with each other about how they could help the humans to recapture their former good luck. In the end the dog came up with an idea.

‘They must get the ring back,’ he said to the cat.

The Cat said: ‘ring is kept in a casket Where no one can get at it.’

‘You catch a mouse,’ said the dog. ‘The mouse must gnaw through the casket and get the ring out. Tell it that unless it does your bidding you will bite it dead, and then it will obey.’

The cat liked this advice and went to catch a mouse. With the mouse in its teeth the cat set out for the house where the casket was kept and the dog followed behind.

They came to a great river. And because the cat could not swim the dog took it on his back and swam across with it. The cat carried the mouse to the house in which the casket was. The mouse gnawed a hole through the side of the casket and got the ring out. The cat took the ring in its mouth and returned to the river where the dog was waiting for it and once more swam across with it. Then they walked back home together to take the lucky ring to their master and mistress.

But the dog could only run along the ground; a house stood in his way he had to run round it. The cat, on the other hand, ran swiftly up the walls and over the roofs and so got home long before the dog and took the ring to its master.

Then the master said to his wife: ‘This cat is a good animal, we will always give it plenty of food and look after it as if it were our own child.’

When the dog got back they beat him and up-braided him for not having helped to recover the ring.

And the rat sat by the stove, preening itself and saying nothing. So the dog grew angry with the cat far having cheated him out of his reward and whenever he saw it he would chase It and try to pounce on it.

Since that day the dog and the cat have been enemies.