The key midfielder was expected to be out for three months after suffering medial ligament damage during the 1-0 victory over Liverpool on 17th October.
But Bruce, who worked with Cattermole at Wigan last season before bringing him to the Stadium of Light for £6million in the summer, believes the 21-year-old might be ready sooner.
He told the Sunderland Echo: "Catts has been out for three weeks already, but after the Spurs game this weekend, there is another fortnight before we play Arsenal and all of a sudden, he has been out for getting on towards five or six weeks.
More quickly"And Cattermole being Cattermole, I would think he will be back more quickly than the doctors have predicted.
"The kind of person he is, I have just got this gut feeling that he might be out for eight weeks rather than the 12 weeks that was said at the start.
"Of course, ultimately I will have to be governed by what the medical people say, but knowing Lee's mentality, he will be keen to get back as quickly as possible.
"For instance, already he can't wait to get the brace off his knee and it won't be long now before that does come off."
O'Donovan hopesMeanwhile, striker Roy O'Donovan is hoping to force his way into Bruce's side after scoring a hat-trick on reserve team duty on Tuesday night.
O'Donovan scored his goals in the 6-1 drubbing of Bolton's second string following his return from a loan spell at Southend, and is desperate for regular football.
He told the club's official website: "It's the first time in a long time I have felt sharp and almost back to myself.
"I think I'm just about getting a run together now. I had appendicitis at Blackpool last year and that knocked me back.
"I haven't played that much football in the last year and a bit.
"It's nice to get a run of games together. Hopefully I carry on getting a run of games now and get my career going again."