Cattermole's position as skipper is likely to be brought in to further question in the coming days for the silly manner in which he earned his second red card in three outings as Sunderland captain.
His dismissal, a second yellow card, arrived with 68 minutes of the match remaining and just four minutes after he had first entered the notebook of referee Andre Marriner.
If the first booking was harsh, for hanging on the shoulder of Mohamed Diame, the second was stupid. Cattermole, chasing down Hugo Rodallega as he charged down the flank, dived in and missed the ball, catching the Colombian which earned him a second red card of the season.
It arrived just hours after he was quoted stating he had been harshly done by by officials and intent on making up for the mistakes that he had made. Now, though, manager Bruce might be forced to reconsider his captaincy appointment.
On the whole, though, a dogged and determined Sunderland stood firm, particularly second half when Wigan's four-man forward line struggled to breakthrough a solid Simon Mignolet goal.
And when Sunderland, who brought Gyan on at the break and opted to play him on his own up front, broke well down the line through the tenacious Jordan Henderson, the 4,500 travelling supporters had a surprise goal to cheer.
Henderson's quick feet outfoxed Diame. With time to pick out his man, Henderson delivered a floated cross to the penalty spot and the unmarked Ghanaian coasted in to apply the sweetest of left foot volleys beyond goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi on his debut.
It was a goal that deserved to win any match, but Wigan continued to push forward in search of their own reward and it finally arrived.
Four minutes from time, Tom Cleverley struck a long range shot into the area, it was turned goalwards by the head of Wigan captain Antolin Alcaraz and Mignolet's stubborn resistance was broken.
Given the context, Sunderland should be grateful for a point, but Bruce and Cattermole are unlikely to be satisfied by the manner in which it had to be achieved.
WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-1-4-1): Al Habsi; Boyce, Alcaraz, Gohouri, Figueroa; Thomas (N'Zogbia 53); Stam (Di Santo 53), Diame, McCarthy, Rodallega; Boselli (Cleverley 75). Subs: Kirkland (gk), Watson, S Caldwell, Gomez.
SUNDERLAND (4-5-1): Mignolet; Onuoha, Bramble, Ferdinand, Richardson (Mensah 80); Elmohamady (Riveros 33), Cattermole, Malbranque, Henderson, Welbeck (Gyan 46); Bent. Subs: Carson (gk), Bardsley, Zenden, Colback.