|Cat or horse?|
Horses were and still are symbols of social prestige. In times past, a man who owned horses was clearly higher on the social scale than the mere commoner who had to (horrors!) walk from one place to another.
This was true in China as in every other place, but the Chinese had a proverb that put things into perspective: “A lame cat is better than a swift horse when rats infest the palace.”
Put another way, the symbols of power don’t always amount to much. Horses might impress the population at large, but the palace is as subject to ruin by rodents as the poor man’s hut is.