This is a great article by Dr. Dodman from Tufts University. He writes about cats that want to be in charge.
Cats are fascinating to me. They refuse to be fully integrated or domesticated as dogs are with humans. They are a paradox. The feline family is broadly diverse; Lynx look very different from Tigers which look very different from Lions which look very different from Servals. But if you observe them for any period of time (at the zoo, nature preserves, tv, etc.) you would see in those exotic felines the same behaviors that your house kitty displays.
I think cats must be somewhat frustrated that we don’t understand them better. We ask them to conform to us when they want us to conform to them. Dogs don’t seem to suffer from this moral dilemma. It’s not a surprise then that certain cats display aggressive behavior towards their humans, perhaps as an outlet for this frustration. Or maybe that’s too much ‘humanization’ of them, maybe some cats are just bossy.
My most heartbreaking cases have been counseling owners who’s cat attacks them. It is tremendously distressing that their kitty feels the need to be aggressive. These attacks can happen when the owner is sleeping, when they cross paths, when they are petting their feline friend, in response to an interaction with another family pet.
Veterinary medicine has tools to help. I’ve used pheromones, herbal remedies, behavioral modification training, and anti-aggressive drugs to help. Rarely have I ever gotten a complete cure. The good news is that we can usually isolate the triggers that set off the cat, practice avoidance of those triggers and the family unit can be harmonious. Sometimes euthanasia is the only solution, however, especially if the owner(s) are physically injured by these attacks.
I am always touched by the depth of love these people have for their kitties in spite of the trauma. Never has one expressed anything but compassion for their furry friend. The human-animal bond is amazing.