Well, with my experience with cats, they've scratched or bitten me because of over stimulation. Too much petting and attention and it overloads the system, and they bite or scratch, usually both.
They can also lash out when they are injured. I still remember the bite that Russell gave me as I was moving him to the cat carrier after he sprained his left rear leg. rolleyes:
And if they've got any reason to not trust you and you trap them with no escape, then yes, they may decide to swat at you while hissing and growling just to make sure you know that they are not happy.
And if you happen to abuse a cat, then you deserve everything the cat has to offer. I have accidentally stepped on Russell's tail many times. And each time he has hissed and ran away. I don't think any animal willingly stays around to be abused. You have to detain them in some manner.
For what you said, it was a fair comment. It wasn't malicious. It was based on your experience which is going to be different from others. Though, for her to say that and given that she heard you talking about cats, she was most likely looking for a reaction from you. Or just making it clear that she doesn't like cats. That's fine, as long as se recognises the fact that not everyone in the world shares her views. I make that point crystal clear to anyone who says they don't like cats. Needless to say, I never invite them to my place and if they're ever at the doorstep needing to speak to someone, then that is where they stay. At the doorstep, outside. I never risk an incident happening.
I don't think you can lose your job for it. You didn't insult anyone.