I think that is probably a good idea (did you ever try to light a fancee feast stove with your catalyst?). I have done some more research on this. The catalytic reaction is methanol (CH3OH) in the presence of platinum (Pt) decomposes into formaldehyde (CH2O) and hydrogen (H2). In that regards, the oxygen fouls the catalytic reaction. Re-examining the lighter, you dip the platinum into the barrel where it is completely surrounded by methanol gas. This heats up the wire (and produces H2 which is very! combustible) but since there is no oxygen, combustion does not occur. As you pull the, now hot, catalyst out you transition through a zone of optimal oxygen/methanol/hydrogen mixture for combustion and the lighter lights up. A more confined space might be necessary to start the reaction.
I also think the thickness of the wire is an important factor. You need a high surface area to volume ratio (which means the thinner the wire the better). The reaction starts very slowly at room temperature. The small amount of heat produced needs to warm up the wire. The thicker the wire, the higher its thermal capacity is and the less it will warm up. I am using pretty darn thin wire (0.003"), but maybe it is still too thick. I might have to get some 0.001" wire.
I found this great video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSdBB1vBDKY
Notice he has to heat the wire up first, I believe that is because the wire is too thick to start at room temperature. Also, notice that as more oxygen diffuses into the Erlenmeyer flask the brightness of the wire goes down. And when combustion occurs, the wire stops glowing completely. That indicates to me that oxygen fouls the catalytic reaction.