The 22-year-old midfielder has finished just 13 of the 25 games he has started for the club he joined from Wigan in a £6million switch last summer as a combination of injuries and disciplinary problems have blighted his time at the Stadium of Light.
Cattermole was sent off on the opening day of the season against Birmingham, and then received his marching orders once again a month later as his return to the DW Stadium turned sour.
However, having returned from his latest enforced lay-off for the 2-2 draw at Liverpool and played his part in last Saturday's stalemate against Manchester United, the former Middlesbrough player is confident he is back on track.
He said: "I was never in any doubt it wasn't going to turn for me and I wasn't going to start playing well because I don't think you can just become a bad player.
"But it doesn't help when you are not playing and you can't become a good player.
"I have just got to keep working hard and getting minutes under my belt.
"I think I have only played three or four 90 minutes in about six months, so my match-fitness is nowhere near ready - I think that's sometimes why I am missing a couple of tackles.
"But the team is looking good. Myself, I will get better and better as the season goes on."
Cattermole's brushes with officialdom left manager Steve Bruce seriously considering his summer decision to hand him the armband.
However, having mulled over the alternatives, Bruce decided to stick with his captain.
His reasoning is perhaps understandable after the youngster blossomed under his guidance at Wigan, and a delighted Cattermole is determined to reward that faith by demonstrating exactly why the Black Cats boss bought him for a second time.
He said: "I like to organise, that's what I do. I like to organise a team.
"When we don't have the ball, that's when I come alive and it is, 'How can we win the ball back as quickly as we can?'.
"I am just determined now to put it right and drive on to help myself get better and better each game with fitness and match sharpness and help drive the team on."