The 19-year-old local centre, Michael Shenton, struck the crucial blow five minutes from time, when Cas chose to run a penalty and he went over from Ben Roarty's pass.
"It shouldn't have been that tough, but we gave the crowd an exciting game," said the relieved Tigers coach, Terry Matterson. "We were dead in the water and I couldn't see where the next points were coming from, but they dug deep."
The victory to take them off the foot of the table was clinched in the last minute, when Gray Viane took Ryan McGoldrick's pass for his hat-trick try.
Castleford had begun as though they were destined to win comfortably, with Waine Pryce, selected for the first time this season, justifying his inclusion with a 60-metre try from dummy half. When Viane claimed his first and Craig Huby added a try and two goals, the Catalans were on their way to a heavy beating, especially when they lost Mark Hughes to the sin bin.
But they responded well, the powerhouse Jamal Fakir using sheer strength to get over after 23 minutes.
Richard Fletcher kept Cas in control, but Thomas Bosc got in for the French side, as they stayed in touch.
Their chance looked to have gone when Cas were first to score in the second half, Viane diving on to Danny Sculthorpe's clever kick. But then Pryce went to the sin bin, for holding on in the tackle, and the Dragons took immediate advantage through Chris Beattie's try.
The former Cas stand-off Shaun Rudder narrowed the gap further and when John Wilson scored with 16 minutes to play they were set to overcome the absence of their leader, Stacey Jones.
They conceded too many penalties in the closing minutes and lost the initiative, however, something for which their assistant coach, Paul Donkin, refused to blame the referee, Steve Ganson. "You can't play 40 minutes of football and expect to win the game," he said. "We paid the price."
Castleford: Platt; Dyer, Shenton, Viane, Pryce; McGoldrick, Kain; Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Fletcher, Huby, Roarty. Substitutes used: Mason, Bird, Haughey, Handforth.
Catalans: Hughes; Murphy, Wilson, Guigue, Verges; Rudder, Frayssinous; Beattie, Rinaldi, Fellous, Fakir, Guisset, Hindmarsh. Substitutes used: Bosc, Chan, Touxagas, Mounis.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).Reuse content