Palermo went close to a spectacular winner when Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez struck the post with an overhead kick 10 minutes from time following Fabrizio Miccoli's chipped pass.
Catania took the lead in the 25th minute when the unmarked Nicola Legrottaglie headed in at the far post after Pablo Barrientos nodded the ball on from Alejandro Gomez's cross.
Palermo levelled 90 seconds into the second half when Nicolas Bertolo sent Miccoli clear and he found a gap between keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo and the near post.
Visiting Catania, who fielded seven Argentines in their team, had won the previous two derbies while Palermo have managed only one win in the last eight meetings.
Catania are eighth in the table and Palermo 14th.