When you think about pests in your garden, you may have images of leaf-damaging bugs or root-eating vermin. However, if you live in an urban area, you may experience another kind of flower bed pest. Stray and feral cats or even house cats that owners allow to wander the neighborhood are notorious for digging in flower beds and even doing their "business" there. There are safe, nontoxic ways to keep these nuisances out of your yard and garden.
Contain your flower beds to curtail cats from getting in. Enclose your flower beds with fencing to encourage cats to seek out more accessible gardens. If there are gaps in your fencing, porch or between your home and garage that might allow cats to get into an otherwise enclosed area, find a way to close them.
Place pungent but nontoxic items in your flower beds. Most cats will avoid strong scents such as moth balls, citrus peels, cinnamon, cayenne pepper or black pepper. Choose one and sprinkle or place the items lavishly around your flower beds. If the cats in your neighborhood are not deterred by the first scent, try another.
Create an uncomfortable environment. Cover your flower bed with chicken wire and top it with soil so that it is does not look unsightly. When cats try to dig in the bed, they will be greeted with the unpleasant metal mesh. Another option is to stand numerous toothpicks or wooden craft sticks all around the bed, making for an unpleasant place for cats to relieve themselves.
Install sprinklers with motion detectors. Spike one of these sprinklers in your flower bed and attach it to a regular garden hose. When a cat crawls into the detection area, the sprinkler squirts water in the direction of movement. After a few soggy incidents, the cats will seek another flower bed in which to dig.
Provide an alternate area. If the cats in question are your own or if you do not mind the cats coming into your yard, you may want to offer them another place to dig. Place a small sandbox near your flower beds or plant catnip toward the back of your yard. Either of these will be more attractive to cats than your lovely flowers.