What matters most is how the word is understood by the linguistic community within which the usage occurred.
Of course these uses seem unintentionally risque now, but when they were written there was nothing wrong with them.
Times is rather notably uptight about taboo vocabulary even in direct quotes and will sometimes use odd euphemisms or circumlocutions when other U.
I suppose that is a strong indication that the term pussy is generally perceived to be vulgar.
Which is to say, something that is wrong in several ways, on multiple levels, that it's like some sort of mathematical exercise in being as wrong as possible.