I believe your problem is that you are trying to be their boss. Cats are their own bosses. They respond to being considered equal to their owners. In fact, many times, they feel they are superior! Well think about it..they sleep all day and then we feed them, brush them, play with them, and clean their litterbox. Sounds a lot like we are their humans. Not they are our cats. Have you tried listening to what they want? And not just expecting them to do what you want.
If you really insist on having "control" try picking up a book on cat training. I too have a strong connection to animals, and I find training to really assist with a stronger bond and a nice give and take that teaches the animal that listening to me is rewarding (with yummy treats and scratches behind the ears). But rewards must always come with cats. Anytime they are asked to do something, there must be something in it for them, or they will stop doing it.