Why in cartoons do they always show skunks smelling?

(I’m posting this on behalf of MilliCal, who has found me before The Straight Dope, and asked if she could start a thread.)
Why is it that in cartoons they always show skunks smelling bad, even though skunks really only stink when they’re “spraying”?

Because if it weren’t all the time, it wouldn’t be funny. Or, at least, the number of funny situations you could do would be limited.

See: Pepe LePew (whom some say isn’t funny even WITH smelling all the time, but that’s moot in this case).

And, well, because they do smell all the time.

There’s a family of skunks who live in my neighborhood in Altadena, near the San Gabriel Mountains in the LA area. They make the rounds nightly to forage in and among the backyards on my block, including our vegetable garden, trash cans, and fruit trees. You can tell when they’ve stopped by, because of the noticeable aroma. It’s not strong like the occasions when one of them does spray. In fact, it’s kind of pleasant… in a nostalgic sort of way.

Even a “denatured” skunk still has a bad case of BO. In college, I had a neighbor who had a “tame” skunk as a pet. It’s scent glands had been removed, but it was still a smelly beast with a rather vile personality.

For the same reason they always show dogs chasing cats. It’s a tradition.

Bambi’s Flower didn’t stink. But then he was a Disney skunk.

Because there are only two reasons to feature a skunk in a cartoon.

  1. It stinks

  2. It doesn’t stink, thereby being either an important plot point or a risky move by the director to cast against type.

If neither 1 nor 2 apply, why not just use a bunny?

Skunks stink 24/7. You that stuff they spray? when they spray, they’re usually in the general vicinity, you know? Plus they don’t only spray it. Many members of that family (ferrets, mink, etc.) have a constant musky smell because of the musk glands common to that family.

There’s a skunk living in the courtyard next to my apartment. I’m on the first floor, and I smell the bastard almost every night. (That’s how I know it’s bed time!) There’s no way he’s spraying that many people. The bugger just smells all on his own. And some nights it’s appreciably worse than others - perhaps those nights he’s skunked someone.

My first Straight Dope post on my brand-spanking new computer!!! :slight_smile: