Interesting thought. I tend to take cartoon messages seriously, since they do subtly influence a lot of our thinking. Especially about sexual relations. Olive is always being harassed by Bluto (and whatever else he was called). It takes a vegetarian sailor to save her.
There is a crazy Betty Boop cartoon in which she is physically pursued by a ton of dirty old men. She just wants to do the boopity-boop; they want something else. Eventually she prevails, with the help of her loyal pooch Bimbo; I think they drop some 16-ton weights on some heads. The message to men: proposition women rudely, and at first you’ll just make them nervous; eventually you’ll get a weight dropped on your head. The message to women: keep a loyal dog around.
In the Pepe the skunk/masher case, I’m not as clear on the message. It could be: if you harass females, you are a skunk. It could be: if somebody thinks you’re their type (a skunk), it’s best just to speak up and say “I’m a cat you Gallic stink bomb!” It could be: chasing cats is fun and necessary, since all men are naturally skunks, and women are shy and mute. The latter is the only message that really irks me.
Interesting note: cats are almost always evil and predatory in cartoons, but not in this one. Hmm. Don’t know what to make of that.
Anyway, I don’t remember the cartoon very well. I thought the cat did eventually get away somehow, maybe by the paint washing off? In any case, as a kid I definitely rooted for the cat, since Pepe was such a goof (I didn’t realize the testosterone factor till much later). Plus I like cats better than skunks.