Well okay, I am going to give my opinion here...
(since you opened the can...
All my cats except Merlin are outdoor cats. And Merlin is indoor/outdoors. He comes and goes as he pleases. I have too many cats to keep them all inside, and hubby would never allow it, anyway.
I live on a big farm, and yes, I have had a couple cats get run over, but that is rare, as we have little traffic here.
The cats LOVE being outside. Their quality of life is so much better than if I kept them shut up inside all the time.
They chase butterflies, mice, climb trees, etc, and they are very happy cats!!!
Merlin loves to go outside. Since he is my baby (meaning he is the one that I am closest too) I worry sometimes about letting him out, for fear of something happening to him, but if I didn't let him go outside, he would be a very very UNHAPPY cat!!!! He LOVES going outside, and it would kill him INSIDE if I suddenly stopped letting him out. He has had to stay inside for a period of time after surgery, and he sat at the window looking out longingly, the whole time, and whining to go out. It broke my heart not to let him.
I realize I run a risk of losing my baby early by letting him go outside, but I look at it this way......
When my dad was alive, the doctor told him he had to quit eating fat and sweets, ice cream etc, or it would shorten his life, greatly. (he was over weight) At first we tried to keep dad from eating sweets, and fattening foods, and took them away from him...we wanted him to live a long, long time!!!
Then dad told us that he would rather just die early than have to be deprived of the things he loved so much, and that to him, living a shorter but happier life, enjoying the things he wanted to, was better than living for a long time, and not being able to do the things he loved (like eating his ritual nightly bowl of ice-cream) So of course, we let him live his life the way it made him happiest.
I feel the same about my cats....Merlin would be MISERABLE if I never let him outside to enjoy the sunshine, and chase the butterflies etc...and though he might live a very long life, he wouldn't be very happy.
I pray everyday that nothing happens to any of my cats, but it is worth the risk I take, to see them so happy and I know if they could talk, and be given the choice, this is what they would chose.
Of course it would be different if we lived in town, their is WAY to much traffic in town, etc, and it would be suicide to let cats roam about in town, but in the country, yes, they could still be run over, but the risk is way less, and they are so happy outside.
I'm not saying a cat who is kept indoors constantly can't be happy...I'm just saying in the case of my cats, they are happier outside.
It DOES scare me sometimes...I love my babies, and it would break my heart to see one of them (especially Merlin) be hurt or killed....but I have to take that risk to let him live the life he wants to live and be happy.
As for coyotes, they never venture too close to the house, as we have two dogs. (one is a big german shepherd) And the cats never wander off too far.
I am sure I will get flamed here....but this is my opinion, and I will stand by it.