The 24-year-old midfielder made a brief appearance as a substitute in Tuesday's FA Cup third-round replay defeat by Bolton but jarred his knee in a practice match on Thursday and is likely to miss Saturday's Premier League game at Wigan.
Cattermole has been sidelined since early December last year after incurring knee ligament damage during the Black Cats' 0-0 draw with QPR.
Manager Martin O'Neill said: "He had a bit of a setback there. We are certainly hoping it's not as long as it was before, that would be terrible.
"But it is a setback and I would say he would be doubtful for tomorrow."
Cattermole has made 13 appearances for Sunderland this season.