A family called 911 after their angry cat trapped them in their bedroom. The story appeared in "The Oregonian" on March 10, 2014, along with a recording of the 911 call. The cat, Lux, can be heard hissing and screaming in the background. Lux's owner, Lee Palmer, told the dispatcher that he'd kicked the cat in the rear to get him off his 7-month old son, after Lux scratched him on the forehead. He also said that Lux has a history of violence.
An article on Yahoo! News via ABC news said that the family's son, Jesse, pulled Lux's tail before the attack. The news stories, when put together, are unclear as to what exactly happened. However, if it's true that Jesse pulled Lux's tail, that would likely have set off the initial response. Getting kicked just added to his fear and defensiveness.
The main problem here is Lux's apparent ongoing aggression, and what was causing it it. If Palmer's kicking Lux to get him off the baby is any indication, this cat was exhibiting a fear-induced response to punishment. Cats don't learn from physical punishment the way dogs and children do. Instead, they learn to be afraid of you, and they will usually continue the behavior in your absence.
If Lux had his tail pulled right before he scratched the baby, then this is what's known as pain-induced aggression. Cats tend to lash out at whatever they believe to be the source of their pain. We often see this at the vet when our cats get their shots, or when the vet's examining an injury or something else painful. Pulling a cat's tail also causes pain, and the cat can lash out in response. That's not an attack, it's a defense. It looks like this may be at least part of what happened with Lux.
Regardless of why Lux scratched the baby, the solution was not to kick him or spank him for it. If Palmer and Barker had gently pulled the baby away from Lux and left him where he was while they cleaned the baby's scratch, it's possible that none of this would have happened. They then could have considered whether to keep Lux and the baby separate, if they felt the baby wasn't safe with Lux.
People need to understand that cats are not people, and don't respond to certain stimuli the way people do. Unfortunately, when something like this happens, it's all to often that the pet suffers for it.