Cattermole, who was expected to be ruled out until the new year, has been told to take his brace off after undergoing surgery on the knee ligament injury he sustained in October.
Now, having been encouraged by the specialist's decision which allows him to step up his rehabilitation, the England Under-21 international is working in the hope of making his comeback in early December.
It is a terrific boost to Bruce, who has been short of options in the middle of midfield in recent matches following injuries and suspensions picked up by Bolo Zenden and Lorik Cana respectively.
Bruce had hoped that Cattermole, a £6m signing from Wigan in the summer, would show the drive and determination to return to fitness ahead of a schedule, and so it has been proved.
The 21-year-old has already become one of the key components of Bruce's team, with Cattermole and captain Cana forming an understanding in the middle of midfield that has contributed to Sunderland's climb into the Premier League's top eight.
Both were missing at White Hart Lane ten days ago when the Black Cats lost to Tottenham, but Cana is due to lineup when Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light this Saturday after suspension.
Bruce's squad has been hit with a few injuries in recent weeks and the good news about Cattermole's progress has been tempered by the length of time goalkeeper Craig Gordon is facing out.
Gordon broke his arm in a collision with Jermain Defoe at Tottenham, when the Scotland international claimed that the England striker could have done more to prevent the incident.
Now Gordon, who had been showing the sort of form that had persuaded Roy Keane to pay £9m for his services in the summer of 2007, has been told he could be out until February.
Craig's injury is the most disappointing thing to come out of the last couple of weeks, said Bruce. It looks as if it's going to be three months. We've not had too much luck in that respect that's two serious injuries in a month.
It's not great, that's for sure, but we'll have to cope without him as best we can.
Gordon's injury frustration has opened the door for Hungarian Marton Fulop.
But Bruce has indicated that Fulop, expected to start against Arsenal, might not have it all of his own way over the next few months, with young deputy Trevor Carson pushing hard for a chance.
Marton's been there and done it before, but Trevor has a chance too, said Bruce. I was impressed with the way he handled himself in pre-season, so it's not a foregone conclusion that I'm going to pick Marton.
Sunderland have also confirmed that French centreback Jean-Yves Mvoto, yet to make an appearance for the club, requires surgery.
The 21-year-old has made six appearances during a loan spell at Southend but he has had to have an operation in the hope of curing a hip problem.